Category Archives: Randian

Will Randians will be the skunk at the Tea Party??

I think so.  I don’t believe their ideas can be recounciled  with the ideas of the religious right.   As a Christian I find their ideas repugnant, though I don’t necessarily represent the right very well right now.

Below I layout what I think are the core of Randianism, and why I and Christians would find it objectionable.

First,f rom a comment on the Modelled Behavior Blog:  Randianism in a nutshell.

Apex

‘’Thus, I see our proper mission as easing pain, where we can, to the extent we can, the best we can.’

Why? What is the point of that? What right does one have to impose that responsibility on others?’

My response in an earlier post was:

I think this is pure Ayn Rand, correct?  I’m sure Apex has a very eloquent defense of this, but honestly my gut reaction is I don’t get this at all.  I think life acquire most of its meaning from having connections with something larger than yourself, whether that is family, friends, your God, your country or other, and trying to add something good to something beyond yourself…

If life is just trying to pursuing your own wants and needs, then as best I can tell it really is very empty and meaningless in the end, unless you’re meglomanica as I think Ayn Rand was, in the end dying alone and largely alienated from anyone and everyone she ever knew.

The point being:  I don’t care for Ayn Rand.  I find her worship of selfishness pathetic and sad.  It and she by her own unambiguous statement was opposed utterly to the Christina gospel I believe.

That this will be an issue within the Republican right was discussed in an interesting way here.

Who is Dagny Taggart? Atlas Shrugged Part 1, the Movie, is Coming to Theatres April 15th

I’ve read Atlas Shrugged, and thought it was a good story in two ways.  First, it teaches that people’s professed motives aren’t always their real ones.  Second, it does warn of mindless conformity and politics in one form or another making all decisions.  Otherwise, I’ve always  found her characters to be wooden, and far too preachy of a philosophy that was heartless, ultimately megalomaniacal, as well as Godless.

Furthermore, having seen the fountainhead, the wooden nature of Rand’s character in that film was perhaps greater than in the book.  Difficult as that is to believe.

This post gives me reason enough to want to see the movie.

Who is Dagny Taggart? Atlas Shrugged Part 1, the Movie, is Coming to Theatres April 15th
santitafarella
Fri, 25 Mar 2011 10:43:33 GMT

Atlas Shrugged Part 1, the movie (which depicts the first third of Ayn Rand’s famous novel of ideas) comes into general release on April 15th, and I must say that the following YouTube teaser clip posted by the film’s producers is super-promising:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             .

And philosopher David Kelley (a Princeton graduate and author of a widely used textbook) has seen the film and is impressed:

The completed film was shown today for the first time in a private screening. It is simply beautiful. With a screenplay faithful to the narrative and message of the novel, the adaptation is lushly produced. The acting, cinematography, and score create a powerful experience of the story.

Taylor Schilling is riveting as Dagny Taggart, the woman who manages the Taggart Transcontinental rail system with intelligence and courage while fighting interference from the president of the company, her incompetent brother James (Matthew Marsden), and his political cronies. Schilling is well-matched with Grant Bowler as steel-maker Hank Rearden. As the story opens, Rearden has just started producing a new alloy he invented; and Dagny is his first customer. . . .

For over half a century, Rand’s novel has been a lightning rod for controversy. It has attracted millions of devoted fans—and legions of hostile critics. A poor adaptation could be ignored by both sides. This adaptation can’t be ignored. It is way too good. It is going to turbocharge the debate over Rand’s vision of capitalism as a moral ideal. Whether you love the novel or hate it, Atlas Shrugged Part I is a must-see film.

Blogger and Rand enthusiast, Hans Schantz, also attended an invitation-only screening. He was preparing for a big disappointment, but was more-than-pleasantly surprised:

When I heard my favorite novel was being made into a movie, all the available omens boded ill: a “low-budget” production, with “no-name” stars, made independently – without the adult supervision of a real Hollywood studio, and rushed into production at the last minute to avoid loss of rights. It sounded like a recipe for disaster. . . . 

I began to understand – as I should have from the start – that independence is a virtue. Ayn Rand’s challenging prose would never have made it through the filter of a major studio without having been seriously blunted and adulterated. The resulting film would have been a caricature, not a capturing of the novel.

Further, a modest budget enforces an austere simplicity that enhances, rather than dilutes the message. A film with the “big-name” stars variously associated with the project over the years would have been more about the stars than the story. I admit that, in my mind’s eye, I always envisioned an Atlas Shrugged movie as an elaborately stylized visual blending of 1930’s vintage art-deco technology and film noir set in a pseudo-1950’s world with hardboiled, chain-smoking heroes. The film I foolishly thought I wanted would have been a tragic mistake – a mistake that would have transformed Atlas Shrugged into fantasy and undercut the dramatic relevance of Ayn Rand’s ideas to a modern setting. The Spartan, contemporary production is set in the near future, but that quality only serves to make the message more relevant and the story the star.

And of the Rearden YouTube scene posted above, Hans Schantz writes the following:

The released scene is NOT a fluke. It is not an accident. It is a representative sample. The rest of the film really is that good – better actually, because the individual scenes compliment and reinforce each other to create a harmonious whole, true to Rand’s story, superbly executed, and well done. The casting was outstanding, with no weak links.

Barbara Branden also saw the film and is enthusiastic about it:

I am delighted, overwhelmed, and stunned.

Yesterday, I saw Atlas Shrugged Part I, the movie. In advance, I was tense and worried. What if it was terrible? In that case, no one would consider a remake for years, if ever. I didn’t think it would be terrible, especially after I saw a clip from the film : the scene where Rearden comes home to his family after the first pouring of Rearden Metal. The scene was very good indeed. But….

The movie is not so-so, it is not OK, it is not rather good — it is spectacularly good.

This is all great news. Though not a Randian myself, I have always liked Ayn Rand (her blunt, unapologetic, and self-confident atheism and Apollonian-Promethean vision of what human beings can be are an intoxicating draw for me), and I’ve been hoping to see a successful contemporary screen adaptation of one of her novels. It looks like we’ll have one on April 15th.

And I can’t help but wonder whether the first of the three novel adaptations will make for a feminist film. The first third of Ayn Rand’s novel, after all, focuses on Dagny Taggart, a female Promethean fighting for her place in the public realm (a realm traditionally dominated by men). Instead of asking who John Galt is, this first film in the trilogy might inadvertently ask and answer a very different question (though Randians might cringe):

Who is Hillary Clinton?

I’ll be going to the film asking whether I’d want my daughters, when they reach their teens, seeing it, and whether it might prove empowering for them. Dagny Taggart, in the novel, is a refreshing alternative sexual persona: neither the compliant angel nor empty-headed whore, but the intellectual woman; the business woman; the public woman. (The woman weak and stupid men fear.)

Dagny Taggart, the castrating warrior princess?

We’ll see.

Who is Dagny Taggart? Atlas Shrugged Part 1, the Movie, is Coming to Theatres April 15th
santitafarella
Fri, 25 Mar 2011 10:43:33 GMT

To Minimalize or Not?

Lifehacker had a post commenting on the minimalist lifestyle. The post suggested that such a life, avoiding owning too many physical things had advantages, but shouldn’t be oversold. Many responses ensued that raised existential questions aplenty. One post was this one:

I live in the real world.

In the real world, I am judged to a certain extent by my possessions.

What I have is a reflection of how well I’ve done. My ability to have nice things is concrete proof that I am a person of some means.

I live in the real world.

Women judge me to a certain extent by what I have to determine if I can be a good provider. They may not admit it to me. They may not admit it to themselves.

I live in the real world.

My peers judge me to a certain extent by the manner in which I present myself. My ability to have nice things in varied formats allows me to present myself in a manner that suits the occasion. My ability to do this conveys the message that I have some degree of taste and that my opinion should be respected.

I live in the real world.

While I may like minimalism or whatever "zen"-type adjective I choose to use, I also know that as soon as I start trying to evangelize about minimalism, I immediately put myself in a certain category and marginalize my ability to persuade.

The response seems like a suggestion that life’s purpose was established by evolution as:

survive and procreate.

At least that’s what I read into it. Each paragraph basically says have more stuff because that will:

impress women (allowing you to reproduce);
make your opinions more respected (give you power, ensure your
survival);
impress peers including those who can give you the opportunity to
acquire opportunities to acquire still more stuff; and
in general to follow an imperative of competition promote your own
success and to know that you have "been successful".

Owning and acquiring things usually does do all these things. Realistically that’s true, and hence the chorus of "I live in the real world". The responses bottom line seems to be: "he who dies with the most toys wins". I find this sentiment (that I think is pretty common), kind of sad and depressing, and I hope it’s not all there is.

Aren’t we at the point of being self aware enough to think we have purposes other than just success in the sense that living long enough to pass our genes along defined it. I think God gives this awareness, and the Christian Gospel reflects it. Aren’t we aware that we are part of a larger whole? I’d like to hope that my life and existence will have ultimately contributed some things that will make the world better for others better in some way.

Bill Gate and Warren Buffet with their philanthropic activity I think realize this. They don’t want their legacies to be just a bunch of stuff they accumulated for themselves, and none of which likely will prevent their dying like the rest of us. Most of us won’t have the opportunity to have such a potential positive impact, I certainly won’t.

I hope that things I’ve acquired or produced may in a very few cases be of use to people I’ve never met. Things that I’ve accumulated but given away. Photos or writing that can be copied for other may stimulate an interesting thought or make someone’s day a little brighter. That’s part of why I’ve been putting a lot of stuff on the web of late hoping something useful for others will survive me.

In any case, case I hope there’s a better answer to the "why do we exist?" question than to accumulate stuff to:

survive and procreate.

Pessimism Revisited

Interesting if awfully dreary post.

A Pessimist Manifesto

Friday ~ September 3rd, 2010 in Babble | by Karl Smith

One odd empirical regularity is that hard-nosed, pessimistic, realist, free-market guys like myself seem to spend more time agreeing with soggy Liberals than with the Conservatives who supposedly share our worldview.

Part of that has to do with the success of the general Libertarian project, as Scott Sumner outlines here. Many free market ideas have now simply become conventional wisdom among wonks of all stripes.

Partially , however, I think it is that many modern Conservatives intuitively base their analysis of the world on a philosophy is that anathema to my worldview. Their view is that if you take a responsible, measured, well-reasoned approach to the world things will work out. Failure is thus a sign that you have not done that.

My sense is that this is fundamentally crap.

First of all things are not going to work out. You are going to die. Your friends and family are going to die. Everything you care about and everything you ever worked for will be destroyed. This story, our story, only has one ending and it is death and destruction.

If you don’t recognize that, you are living in a fantasy world.

Second, even in the short term your plans almost certainly won’t work out. Most ideas are bad ideas and there are infinitely more ways to fuck something up than to get it right.

To wit, clean living is not some form of salvation. Nor, is prudence assurance that that you and your loved ones will be okay. Suffering is inevitable and the best one can say is that it hasn’t happened to me – yet.

Bad things happen because badness is the natural state of the world. If something good ever happens count yourself lucky and be aware that this too shall pass.

Thus, I see our proper mission as easing pain, where we can, to the extent we can, the best we can. This is best done up close and personal where you are mostly likely to quickly notice if your efforts to help are actually doing harm.

On the drearyness, I think that our existence and of our friends and family and everything we care a whit about is limited. But that we occupy a limited place in space and in time doesn’t seem to mandate being quite so gloomy. You need to make the most of what time you have. I am a Christian and as such believe in transcendence of death, but even if I didn’t I think I would feel the same.

I was very struck by this comment:

4:40 pm

Apex

“‘Thus, I see our proper mission as easing pain, where we can, to the extent we can, the best we can.’

Why? What is the point of that? What right does one have to impose that responsibility on others?”

I think this is pure Ayn Rand, correct? I’m sure Apex has a very eloquent defense of this, but honestly my gut reaction is I don’t get this at all. I think life acquire most of its meaning from having connections with something larger than yourself, whether that is family, friends, your God, your country or other, and trying to add something good to something beyond yourself. Furthermore, the mission that Karl suggests doesn’t have to be mandated.

If life is just trying to pursuing your own wants and needs, then as best I can tell it really is very empty and meaningless in the end, unless you’re meglomanica as I think Ayn Rand was, in the end dying alone and largely alienated from anyone and everyone.

Finally, I thought pessimism was a the point of view of conservatives, especially of course about well intended government programs, especially with unintended consequences and the like.