Monday, February 23, 2009

The ARI's "Practical" Solution

According to the ARI's press release:
Sales of “Atlas Shrugged” Soar in the Face of Economic Crisis

Washington, D.C., February 23, 2009--Sales of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” have almost tripled over the first seven weeks of this year compared with sales for the same period in 2008. This continues a strong trend after bookstore sales reached an all-time annual high in 2008 of about 200,000 copies sold.

“Americans are flocking to buy and read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ because there are uncanny similarities between the plot-line of the book and the events of our day” said Yaron Brook, Executive Director at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “Americans are rightfully concerned about the economic crisis and government’s increasing intervention and attempts to control the economy. Ayn Rand understood and identified the deeper causes of the crisis we’re facing, and she offered, in ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ a principled and practical solution consistent with American values."
The total destruction - political, cultural, ethical, economic and philosophical - of American society, followed by its total reformation according to the dictates of a 1950s novel; this is what's called a "practical" solution to the current economic crisis?  


16 comments:

john said...

Mr. Barnes: "The total destruction - political, cultural, ethical, economic and philosophical - of American society, followed by its total reformation according to the dictates of a 1950s novel; this is what's called a "practical" solution to the current economic crisis?"

Yes.

John Donohue
Pasadena, CA

gregnyquist said...

This is yet another example of how Objectivists use the vagueness of concepts to equate dissimilar things. An Objectivist would say that any economic crisis has "uncanny similarities" with the plot-line of Atlas Shrugged, just as the Marxist would say the crisis has uncanny similarities with the theories of Das Kapital. And while there are a few vague similarities, a vague similarity hardly constitutes an uncanny one! The Democrats in Washington are not the one dimensional socialistic caricatures that haunt Rand's fevered tome, nor is the economy in crisis because the leading entrepreneurs and capitalists on strike. Most are still working and the few that aren't (such as Bill Gates) have stepped out of the world of business for very un-Randian reasons, to say the least!

There is, however, several uncanny differences between Atlas and the present crisis, perhaps the most notably being the fact that today's version of Hugh Akston (i.e., Leonard Peikoff) voted for the ruling power in Congress. I don't recall Akston having done any such thing in Atlas, yet Peikoff, in 2006, insisted that "the most urgent political task now is to topple the Republicans from power.... This entails voting consistently Democratic, " because "anyone who votes Republican or abstains from voting in this election ... does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism." In other words, Peikoff believed that anyone who understands Objectivism should help may Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House, who, incidentally, is the primary author and political force behind the pork laden, inflation creating stimulus bill.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Slightly OT, but I'm always a little bit creeped out by folks who can't seem to differentiate fiction from reality. (And I say this as a guy who loves literature, and who thinks that fiction (especially science fiction) allows authors a freedom for exploring all sorts of ideas in novel and insightful ways. Still, I don't look at the Foundation Trilogy as a guidebook for organizing a municipality, let alone a pan-galactic civilization.)

I find it creepier still that Objectivists, who regard themselves as defenders of liberty and reason, can come to the end of AS where our "heroes" are divvying up the country like a bunch of feudal lords and regard that as even being in line with their professed values, let alone a practical solution to society's woes.

I've since been told that it's okay for for them to do this being no one was living there, but I don't recall Rand explaining (or even alluding to) what caused the die-off of every single human being in North America except for those living in Galt's Gulch. And even if she did and I just missed it or can't remember it, is genocide* really the answer?

*I'm aware that the heroes of the novel didn't commit genocide themselves, but when your utopia first requires the deaths of 99% of the the country's population it becomes a distinction without a different, whether or not you do it yourself or stand back and let others do it for you.

Mark Plus said...

For some reason Yaron Brook failed to mention the central role of a massive Malthusian die off in the U.S. as part of the "principled and practical solution consistent with American values" Rand offered in Atlas Shrugged.

Damien said...

Daniel Barnes,

I can say even without reading the book that this wouldn't be practical. For something to be practical for one thing, it must have a reasonable chance of success.

Damien said...

I mean do you hate the way things are so much that you want to overthrow the entire system? How many people out there hate the way things are that much, and that's ignoring weather or not Rand's ideal society would even be possible or desirable.

David said...

Mark Plus wrote, "For some reason Yaron Brook failed to mention the central role of a massive Malthusian die off..."

For me (as is obvious by my above post) that's the thing that really beggars my imagination. If those people weren't killed outright, but rather died due to a "Malthusian die-off," did Rand and do Objectivists really believe that NO ONE in North America would be able to survive by hunting, scavenging, or farming, especially given all of arable land that (in the novel) had just became available?

If they allow that some people outside Galt's Gulch would have survived, do they think that these survivors wouldn't organize themselves into new communities to protect themselves and their resources as human beings have been doing since, well, as long as there have been human beings?

If they allow that survivors would organize into new communities, do they really think that these communities would just hand over the land and resources they had struggled to build and maintain without a fight on the say-so some people living in the Rocky Mountains claimed dominion over all of North America?

I guess they really must think these things if they think that this book (a) the greatest novel of all time, and (b) offers practical solutions to our economic woes.

Forgive me for beating this dead horse, but it isn't just bad philosophy. It's bad science fiction too.

David said...

Gah! Typos! Apologies.

Andrew said...

Greg wrote:

"This is yet another example of how Objectivists use the vagueness of concepts to equate dissimilar things. An Objectivist would say that any economic crisis has "uncanny similarities" with the plot-line of Atlas Shrugged, just as the Marxist would say the crisis has uncanny similarities with the theories of Das Kapital"

This is very true and does it not boil down to the perceived explanatory power of the Objectivist theories?

But as Popper shows us, explanatory power is a very poor indicator of the truth of a theory, in fact the more a theory excludes the greater its veracity and resistance to falsification will be.

For me this insight is brilliant and is one of those rare truths which instantly changes the way you think.

Karl Popper "Science as falsification" 1963

Popper on the apparent explanatory power of the theories of Marx, Freud and Adler.

"These theories appear to be able to explain practically everything that happened within the fields to which they referred. The study of any of them seemed to have the effect of an intellectual conversion or revelation, open your eyes to a new truth hidden behind from those yet not initiated. Once your eyes were thus opened you saw confirmed instances everywhere: the world was full of verifications of the theory. Whatever happened always confirmed it. Thus its truth appeared manifest; and the unbelievers were clearly people who did not want to see the manifest truth; who refuse to see it, either because it was against their class interest, or because of their repressions which were still "un-analyzed" and crying aloud for treatment."

Wells said...

Ladies and Gentlemen.

If I was to suggest to you that the solution to all of our economic problems lie within the pages of the Bible, You would regard me as someone who, having taken complete leave of their senses, has become totally Loony Tunes.

So, we have a group of people claiming that the solution to the entire banking/mortgage/borrowing too much money crisis is within the confines of a book of fiction written in the 50's by a fiction writer. This is Madness.

gregnyquist said...

David: "did Rand and do Objectivists really believe that NO ONE in North America would be able to survive by hunting, scavenging, or farming, especially given all of arable land that (in the novel) had just became available?"

Rand provided a neat way for her followers to "reason" there way out of this quandry in the implicit logic of some of philosophical principles. First she insists that human survival depends on "reason." But then it turns out that anyone who follows "reason" would be inevitably led to Objectivism. Hence, if they aren't already Objectivists this proves they are not using "reason" and wouldn't be able to figure out how to hunt, fish, grow their own vegatables, etc. etc.

Daniel Barnes said...

Lots of good comments.

Andrew:
>But as Popper shows us, explanatory power is a very poor indicator of the truth of a theory...

Precisely.

Wells:
>So, we have a group of people claiming that the solution to the entire banking/mortgage/borrowing too much money crisis is within the confines of a book of fiction written in the 50's by a fiction writer. This is Madness.

Yes. This is why we write about it...;-)

Anonymous said...

Dan,

How are you doing? I got into another tiff with you know who and was looking for something specific about Objectivism and funerals, and my googling led me by accident to this site, where I noticed that you and Greg are still up to no good. Nostalgic stuff from the good old days, but fortunately (:)), I don't have time for philosophy any more.

How's life?

Laj

Daniel Barnes said...

Drop me a line, my friend. Do you still have my email?

Anonymous said...

Just did.

Laj