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Old 06-28-2009, 12:29 PM   #46
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And who will teach them... will parents pay for private education for their children, and poorer parents will have uneducated children (which damages everyone in the long run)
You don't get it. A child is born "Type-A" or "Type-B". If he is born "Type-A", he will need no state-funded education, he will "teach himself to read" (as a character from The Fountainhead) and he will endure anything until he realizes his vision. This will allow himself to look down on those "Type-B" who couldn't make it and have turned to "looters" and "second-raters".
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Old 06-28-2009, 01:30 PM   #47
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No, there's a good number of "ordinary good folks" sprinkled throughout the book.

I believe they all die.

Interesting lesson she's got going with that morality... "if you're a type-A personality genius, this is the philosophy for you. If you're a type-B personality, or not a genius, you're probably doomed and none of the Superleaders should bother with what happens to you."

Oh, and the issue with "lower class" labor at Galt's Gulch... the problem isn't "who's going to work in the sewage plant" or "who'll haul wood?" Those will be paying jobs, hired out to the lowest bidder. The real issue is "who will change diapers and feed babies?" (Are women expected to stop working a paying job, or are both parents equally expected to tend their children?)

And who will teach them... will parents pay for private education for their children, and poorer parents will have uneducated children (which damages everyone in the long run), or will there be an education tax? Should children basically be "property" of their parents until the age of majority, or should a (proper Objectivist) culture have protections for them, minimum standards for their education and treatment? If it has protections for them, who pays for those? What happens to orphans? Do they get thrown into work farms?

There are some gaping holes in Rand's plutarchist utopia.
I'm willing to give her a break on these issues as Atlas Shrugged was already over 1,000 pages long (in a small font). I don't expect an author that is advocating a philosophy in the medium of fiction to cover every possible objection to that philosophy. I doubt Sartre's Nausea covers every objection to Existentialism.

For the most part I enjoyed Atlas Shrugged. From a literary standpoint I enjoyed the story. I didn't mind that her characters didn't change because I think that was one of the points of the book. The world was falling apart around her characters but they never abandoned their core beliefs.

From a philosophical (or political) standpoint the book was written over 50 years ago, but we are still struggling with many of the themes that Ayn addresses in Atlas Shrugged and the book still feels fresh and relevant. I don't agree with all of Ayn Rand's beliefs, but I do agree with many of them, and the one's with which I disagree I don't have good answers for myself. I am also constantly "re-examining my premises."

One last thing, I have to say that I very much enjoyed the Dagny Taggart character. The book was published in the 1950s and Dagny had sexual relations with three different men all outside the bounds of marriage (at least on Dagny's part). I can just imagine how people from the 50s viewed Dagny. Personally, I find stong, intelligent, independent, and self-sufficient women very attractive.
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Old 06-28-2009, 05:47 PM   #48
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I loved Atlas Shrugged; I still love it. Knowing some of its flaws as a total economic & philosophical system don't change that.

I don't mind giving her a break about childcare issues... but her acolytes don't seem to have any better answers; they seem to think children are an expensive individual hobby rather than a community project. (While I think there's a limit to community input on child-rearing, I also think that encouraging parents to make entirely their own standards and choices is very troublesome.)
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Old 06-28-2009, 11:06 PM   #49
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Vaccinations are a good example.

Many people are choosing not to vaccinate their children. And this is, of course, resulting with increased cases of measles, etc. Now should the parents be allowed NOT to vaccinate? What about the rights of the children not to suffer some disease because of stupid decisions by their parents? But most importantly... herd immunity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity). The state has a very valid interest in seeing vaccinations happening - not because they have to care about little Johnny, but because it's better for everyone else if we don't have some people getting measles and then more people getting measles, etc...

But really just another example of our entanglement with each other and how that entanglement plays out in regards to politics, personal freedom, etc.
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Old 06-29-2009, 12:52 AM   #50
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Vaccinations are a good example.

Many people are choosing not to vaccinate their children. And this is, of course, resulting with increased cases of measles, etc. Now should the parents be allowed NOT to vaccinate? What about the rights of the children not to suffer some disease because of stupid decisions by their parents?
Worse, the mother was never vaccinnated, so infants too young to be immunized are not getting any antibodies from being in vitro (nor any the next two years that would normally come from breast feeding, even if they aren't switched to formula at birth).

The mother had no ill effects from lack of immunization - but lived in a community of 90+% that had been vaccinated, so was never exposed to many childhood diseases that killed and maimed many in prior generations. Their kids, however, don't live in a highly vaccinated society and are exposed much more in their early years due to the prevalence of day care from infancy. Add in an influx of disease from illegal immigrants and you end up with infants dying of whooping cough again (already happening -- childhood diseases are hitting infants who should have immunity from their mothers, but don't, as the mother has no antibodies, either).
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Old 06-29-2009, 04:13 AM   #51
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I read Atlas Shrugged after an acquaintance (whose
opinions I don't care much for
) told me he had read
and liked it very much.
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Old 06-29-2009, 04:28 AM   #52
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I had a GF once who loves Ayn Rand. She also loved Diana Gabaldon's books too. I find some of her taste in books to be a bit suspect.
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Old 06-29-2009, 09:39 PM   #53
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... From a philosophical position her arguments are utter and complete dreck.

And from a moral perspective... ugh, don't even get me started. Any ideology that doesn't understand how interdependent we all are I can pretty much write off as nonsense real quick.
I believe you might be missing the "rational self-interest" part, which would address some of your objections.

No, Rand's writing should certainly not be taken as gospel, but then very little out there should be.

In any case, like it or not, Rand is a very influential author, and any 20th century overview, which does not mention her work, would be deficient.
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Old 06-30-2009, 07:55 AM   #54
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In any case, like it or not, Rand is a very influential author, and any 20th century overview, which does not mention her work, would be deficient.
She only has "popular" influence in the US (and to a lesser extent in the UK). I doubt anyone outside that sphere knows her.
Quote:
From a philosophical (or political) standpoint the book was written over 50 years ago, but we are still struggling with many of the themes that Ayn addresses in Atlas Shrugged and the book still feels fresh and relevant.
As Robert Solomon said once (in a teaching company course): Rand hates Nietzsche, mostly because he's said everything she did better.
Of course the things she touches on are relevant; We still live in the same, capitalist, world. That said, I have the feeling there are infinitely more productive authors to read than her.. Charles Dickens, for all I care (not that I have anything against the guy's writing).
Again, the "problem" she mentions is the specifically economically conservative/libertarian viewpoint that noone should be forced to pay for anyone else; as such, it mostly seems to be used as a facile "defense" or rationalization for those people (Alan Greenspan and his economic "policy" comes to mind here). And it is facile especially because it ignores the entire social dimension of life in communities/societies/yada.
As Nietzsche (and Plato) already pointed out: once the masses come out of the woodwork and combine their power, the "type A" personalities will just die, because they are too few, and will have antagonized everyone else too much for their outlook to still be a tenable. Sure, this "philosophy" works for some, but only because they can keep the effects of their behavior a relative secret (the effects of white collar crime are widely underreported, for instance). Once they're outed, it's over.

Sure, it wasn't meant as a coherent defense (it's "only fiction"), but it is used that way, and I'm quite sure she was very happy about that, too.

(disclaimer: I have no beef with a differential reward scheme, but one so entirely oblivious of the social implications of a winner-takes-all world..)

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Old 06-30-2009, 08:02 AM   #55
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She only has "popular" influence in the US (and to a lesser extent in the UK). I doubt anyone outside that sphere knows her.
She's pretty much a joke 'anywhere but' the US and UK (and in the UK she's on the margins).
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Old 06-30-2009, 08:06 AM   #56
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She's pretty much a joke 'anywhere but' the US and UK (and in the UK she's on the margins).
Weren't the Canadian band Rush heavily influenced by her writings?

Update - found a link.
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Old 06-30-2009, 08:07 AM   #57
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Weren't the Canadian band Rush heavily influenced by her writings?
They were...and look how much they sucked

EDIT: and look how much NOFX rock and they're influenced by Noam Chompsky. I now rest my case.

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Old 06-30-2009, 08:08 AM   #58
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They were...and look how much they sucked

Best band ever imho.
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Old 06-30-2009, 08:10 AM   #59
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Best band ever imho.
I was only joking Never been much of a fan of Rush to be honest, but I reckon they took on the Randian thing in a science-fictiony way, rather than the actual soul-dead, glassy-eyed zombie philiosophies of Ayn Rand herself.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:58 AM   #60
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Regarding the problems with her philosophy, it's not something I care to get into in any detail... there's a lot of discussion all over ....

So from an (as objective as I can be) intellectual standpoint I find her ideas terrible.

Personally, in the subjective, I think her ideas are monstrous and point to so much that is wrong in the world. I think it is, at best, dressed up selfishness. I don't think it's good for the person practicing it and I sure don't think it's good for anyone else. It tries to turn selfishness into a virtue and I don't think it is. A certain amount of 'enlightened self-interest' is fine and useful and good, but like everything else it has to be checked and moderated. Ideally, I don't want to live in either extreme.
I couldn't agree more.
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