Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Yes, it's Atlas Shrugged Pt 2.

Estimated budget of Pt 1: $20m
Current domestic gross of Pt 1: $4.6m (via


Mr. A said...

First comment on website: "Please, get it out before the election. In time to force some comments from the candidates!"

Top three hot-button issues for 2012 US election: 3-Economy 2-National Debt 1-Atlas Shrugged the movie part 2?

Keep dreaming.

Anonymous said...

But Mr.A you are forgetting this is the year of the Rand renaissance. Her ideas have never been more popular. Why look at her influence on the tea party and yeah right...I think that ship has sailed.

Steven Johnston

Ken said...

I'm torn. In some ways it would be no more strange than some of the other single-issue voters out there. On the other hand, it would be like a Trekkie asking a candidate their position on Ferengi membership in the Federation.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many (serious) Presedential candidates since 1957 have said AS is their favourite book?

Steven Johnston

Mr. A said...

But wait, that's not all! More from the blog:

1. The reason Part one only grossed 4.6 mill? Bad marketing. If they spend more time promoting it, surely they can double that. Then they'd only lose 10 million dollars!

2.I can't make this up, guys...

"The reason why Atlas Shrugged is such a great book is bc it depicts Ayn Rand's philosophy. To make the movie successfully it has to be loaded with the philosophy of Ayn Rand."

Ah, so that was the trouble with Part I: too LITTLE moralizing! I knew it!

Through in more insults against the looters, and hey, at this rate, they'll only lose five million dollars!

I hope Peikoff's DIM hypothesis sells well, because these guys might need a big loan if they want to make part III...

Echo Chamber Escapee said...

@Mr. A: "I hope Peikoff's DIM hypothesis sells well, because these guys might need a big loan if they want to make part III..."

Won't help. The producers are in cahoots with Evil Anti-Objectivist(TM) David Kelley (insert hissing noises here), and there's no way Peikoff or ARI is going to lend even a nickel to those shameless exploiters of Ayn Rand's Immortal Genius. Peikoff (a.k.a. The Estate of Ayn Rand) is the guy who insisted on a disclaimer in the credits, remember? He will not sanction evil.

This may also explain the comment implying that Part I was insufficiently "loaded with the philosophy of Ayn Rand." Obviously, David Kelley can't be trusted to get even "A is A" correct, let alone anything else.

Neil Parille said...

Peikoff's DIM Hypothesis book was supposed to be out in 2009.

I doubt we'll ever see it.

-Neil Parille

Anonymous said...

Could be there are backers willing to take a loss to promote Rand's ideas. Or could be that the budget for the first part was less than what's claimed, maybe inflated in the press by producers looking to overcome the "it was done cheap" buzz.

Mr. A said...


I never got that. Why do 'true' Objectivists spend so much time demonizing Kelly and the Brandens while there are so many others who are far, far more threatening to the philosophy (like Mr. Nyquist, for example).

Two hypotheses:

1)It's more about maintaing the personality cult than actually defending Rand's philosophy, sadly.

2)I don't know if they CAN refute Mr. Nyquist. I'm making my way through his "Rand and empirical responsibility" now, and so many of Rand's assertions, upon further review, seem untenable. So Objectivists just ignore systematic attacks on the philosophy and quibble over who's REALLY an Objectivist.


gregnyquist said...

Why do 'true' Objectivists spend so much time demonizing Kelly and the Brandens

Yes, it does primarily have to do with the Rand personality cult. Kelley has attempted, with varying degrees of failure and success, to remove the cult-like aspects of Objectivism from Rand's philosophy. The problem is that the personality cult side of Objectivism appears to be an important component of the philosophy. Most people become Objectivists when quite young, often in high school. They are not equipped with either the technical skills or experiential knowledge necessary to evaluate Rand's empirical claims or the logic of her reasonings. Therefore, in order to accept Rand's contentions, they have to regard Rand as a special kind of authority who can be trusted as a source for philosophical, moral, and political knowledge. They have, then, a vested interest in maintaining what amounts to a personality cult around Ayn Rand, since all their beliefs are ultimately based, not on logic and fact, but on the supposition that Ayn Rand is the greatest philosopher since Aristotle.

The Brandens are hated because, more than anyone else, they have brought forth testimony very damaging to the maintenance of the Rand personality cult. The portrait of Rand that emerges from their respective biographies is not some paragon of rationality with no major character flaws, but rather of an intelligent but manipulative, passionate, close-minded and headstrong egomaniac who too often mistook her own needs for "objective truth" and her morality as a license to abuse and mistreat other people.

Mr. A said...

Ah, but Mr. Nyquist, you forget: there is no such thing as a 'closed' mind, just 'passive' minds!

In hindsight, the language games that Rand makes her followers go through are bizzare. Granted sometimes she makes good points about the ways words are misused ('democracy' is probably the best example) but the only purpose of most of it seems to be to inculculate followers into the 'right' way of thinking, i.e., the netherworld of her personality cult.

Example: "That's good in theory, but it doesn't work in practice."

Gasp! An evil platonic mind-body dichotomy assertion! Fight it!

And I am embarrased to say I would speak up if someone said something like this in my high school politics class and give them the 'right' definition of the word. And when I finally wisened up and saw that Rand herself was often misusing words (selfishness being the prime example), what did my Objectivist friend say? Well, Objectivist definitions are BETTER than the regular ones!

Probably just another way to combat opponents on silly issues that don't matter and ignore discussions about serious topics.

Gee, just like American politics today :)

Echo Chamber Escapee said...

@Mr. A: "Why do 'true' Objectivists spend so much time demonizing Kelly and the Brandens while there are so many others who are far, far more threatening to the philosophy (like Mr. Nyquist, for example)."

It's the doctrine of Sanction, which is a logical consequence of the impotence of evil. I'll try to explain it without laughing.

According to Rand, the Evil (by which she apparently meant pretty much everyone other than Objectivists) is irrational and therefore impotent. The only way Evil can succeed is if the Good (that would be Objectivists) helps it out. So the most important thing one can do against Evil is to not sanction it.

This means that true Objectivists can and should just ignore openly declared enemies or critics of Objectivism, like Mr. Nyquist. Such critics are irrational fools who will inevitably wither and die from their own impotence, like those doomed train passengers in the Winston Tunnel disaster in Atlas Shrugged. (Too bad, really; I've come to like a lot of the regulars here ... but then I'm probably as doomed as they are.) Since reality is going to annihilate them, there's no need for Objectivists to engage with them, not even just to refute them. Moreover, engagement with critics is dangerous! If you debate an irrational (as opposed to merely mistaken) critic, people will assume the critic's point of view is worth considering -- and that in itself is a form of sanctioning evil. So it's better to just ignore the open critics and let them rot; they can't hurt you.

The dangerous enemies are those who actively claim the sanction of the Good in support of their evil. This is dangerous because it could trick and mislead people from the One True Path laid out by Ayn Rand. (What? She didn't call it that? Oh well.) That's why David Kelley must be vehemently denounced; that's why Libertarians are worse than religious conservatives.

Or maybe it's just a cheap rationalization for not engaging with critics.

Echo Chamber Escapee said...

Seriously, though, I'm in the camp that says Objectivists (from Rand on down) avoid arguments because they can't refute the critics.

That's why, when Objectivists engage with critics at all, they resort to name-calling. if you point out inconvenient facts that undermine Rand's theories, you're "concrete-bound." If you point out internal inconsistencies in her theories, your problem is that you are using the concepts as "floating abstractions," unlike Rand, who grounded them in reality. Either way, the problem is the critic's irrationality, not Objectivism.

Xtra Laj said...

Human beings who do not believe in Objectivism are often just as incorrigible, so I think it is a bit (only a mild bit) unfair to blame Objectivism for a common failing ( a tad bit because Objectivism is a strong enabler, while, for example, well structured peer review or philosophy that discusses the epistemic limitations of human beings are disablers).

In a broader context, part of the reason why Objectivists can get away with what they do is that their arguments tend to be relatively abstract and far removed from practical matters. To the degree that their arguments impinge on practical matters, Objectivists are usually powerless to do anything practical, or are able to mix their views with commonsense.

For example, consider the problem of induction. Believing it has been solved isn't going to cause you any serious problems, neither does believing induction is valid. This is the kind of thing that OBjecvists will expend saliva debating.

Despite not being theoretical physiciss, they will also make all kinds of pronouncements on the rationality of relativity, or the existence of God. Again, all complex issues where people can be right or wrong while allowing common sense to largely prevail.

Things get more interesting when it gets to issues with longer tails/lengthy feedback cycles, or where statistical correlations are not 100% (smoking causing cancer, parents being emotionally attached to their children, genetic influences on human behavior). Objectivists can deny these things too, but it gets much more expensive to do so if these denials make it harder for you to accept important human/personal limitations e.g. Rand denying cancer and smoking were strongly related until she contracted cancer, many OBjectivists treating family members like pariah under the influence of Rand etc.

Human beings do these things too, but Objectivism just enables an annoying cluster of rationalistic attitudes simultaneously.

Ken said...

@Echo Chamber Escapee: "It's the doctrine of Sanction, which is a logical consequence of the impotence of evil."

After reading your followup post, I'm not sure you're serious about this, but I'll ask anyway. Is there some formal means of sanction, like a Catholic excommunication or a Klingon discommendation? Or is it just something that individuals do to other individuals, maybe supplemented with a little bad-mouthing in email?

Echo Chamber Escapee said...

@Ken: Is there some formal means of sanction, like a Catholic excommunication or a Klingon discommendation? Or is it just something that individuals do to other individuals, maybe supplemented with a little bad-mouthing in email?

In my experience, withdrawal of sanction happens at all levels of formality. (Note: Objectivists use "sanction" as meaning to approve or lend support.) Since Rand's death, only Pope Leonard can officially excommunicate someone from organized Objectivism (or at least ARI's version of it); he seems to have inherited this power from Rand. The good news (unless you like making fun of the ARIan orthodoxy) is that he has declined to name an intellectual heir, so maybe the power to excommunicate will die with him.

There's not much ceremony to the excommunication. Peikoff declares "you're out," and all the promoters of Orthodox Objectivism rush to announce that you are no longer associated with them.

But even without power to excommunicate, any Objectivist can withdraw his personal sanction of another via all sorts of tactics: blog posts, bans from community groups or online forums, loud Facebook unfriendings (there were a bunch of these last fall when McCaskey got the axe), or just cutting off all communication with someone. The sanction-withdrawer might or might not explain his action; he has no obligation to do so, but may decide he needs to warn others.

And just to be clear -- I don't actually think "sanction" is in fact a logical consequence of anything. As my handle may suggest, I no longer take Objectivist dogma seriously. I just have tons of it stuck in memory, possibly indelibly, and what I wrote was intended to be an accurate characterization of the Objectivist theory of sanctioning evil.

Unlike me, Rand did regard the theory of sanction as a logical consequence of her ethics. I know Peikoff does; all you have to do is read "Fact and Value." It's available on his website, but I'm not sure I want to give you the link because it will make your brain hurt. Even David Kelley agrees with the principle that sanctioning evil is wrong. The difference between Peikoff and Kelly is really that Kelley requires a much higher threshold of evidence before branding someone as evil. (As I recall, he even expressed doubts about Kant's evilness.) He might even be inclined to call Greg Nyquist misguided rather than evil.

For my part, I would not call Greg either misguided or evil. I'd call him an honest, thoughtful critic with some really good insights. I don't agree with everything I read here, but it is a most useful site for the recovering ex-Objectivist.

Ken said...

@Echo Chamber Escapee: Thanks for the info. It's good to know I can continue commenting here without fear of being hunted down by albino monks or some such thing.

As for people who announce that they're no longer going to talk with me, I think I can live with that. Not that anyone has done that to me since junior high; perhaps this is another data point for the question of emotional development.