Atlas Shrugged: Labor Relations

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIII

“Well, it’s like this, Miss Taggart,” said the delegate of the Union of Locomotive Engineers. “I don’t think we’re going to allow you to run that train.”

Dagny sat at her battered desk, against the blotched wall of her office. She said, without moving, “Get out of here.” [p.216]

Yes, this chapter deals with Rand’s views on the proper relations between labor and management. Strap yourselves in, folks, it’s going to be a fun ride.

The thing you need to keep in mind, the thing that shapes Ayn Rand’s entire view toward unions and the labor movement, is that she thinks work is its own reward and that business success counts for more than anything, including the health of the people who made it possible. (She says so explicitly in this chapter: “the sight of an achievement is the greatest gift a human being could offer to others” [p.222]).

As we saw in the chapter on Hank Rearden, the World’s Worst Boss, Rand doesn’t think that sickness, tiredness or pain are reasons not to work. It follows that she finds labor agitation incomprehensible. In her eyes, the only reason that union members might threaten to strike is because they’re evil, anti-life moochers who hate capitalism. (Rand’s lifelong favorite book was an anti-union novel called Calumet K, which you can read online if you like.)

But back to Dagny’s office. The union representative is still haranguing her:

“What you’re doing is a violation of human rights. You can’t force men to go out to get killed – when that bridge collapses – just to make money for you.”

She searched for a sheet of blank paper and handed it to him. “Put it down in writing,” she said, “and we’ll sign a contract to that effect.”

“What contract?”

“That no member of your union will ever be employed to run an engine on the John Galt Line.” [p.217]

Predictably, the evil union official hems and haws at this. Dagny sneers at him: “You want me to provide the jobs, and you want to make it impossible for me to have any jobs to provide.”

Rand treats this as if her heroine has caught the greedy union thug in an irreconcilable contradiction, but the resolution is obvious, and even the text states it: unions want jobs for their members, yes, but they also want safe jobs that won’t kill or maim the people who do them.

In the days before unions, fatal work accidents were commonplace – employers reasoning that it was cheaper to replace injured or dead workers than to spend money improving safety. The most infamous example was the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where 146 garment workers either burned to death or leaped from windows to their doom upon finding that managers had locked the building’s exits.

Unions came about in part to change this calculus and to persuade management that the human beings who worked for them weren’t a replaceable commodity. And where the labor movement isn’t strong, preventable on-the-job deaths and illnesses are still happening – like the deadly factory collapse of Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza, or agricultural workers sprayed with toxic pesticides. Rand, of course, never even pays this history a passing glance.

“That train is going to be run. You have no choice about that. But you can choose whether it’s going to be run by one of your men or not. If you choose not to let them, the train will still run, if I have to drive the engine myself… If you think that I need your men more than they need me, choose accordingly. If you know that I can run an engine, but they can’t build a railroad, choose according to that.”

Remember, Rand’s protagonists are omnicompetent super-geniuses who can do anything, so other people desperately need them, but they don’t need anyone. Small wonder that, in the world of this book, the relationship between labor and management is so one-sided.

But in the real world, as it turns out, most people don’t possess every conceivable skill. Despite what Rand seems to think, just because you run a railroad doesn’t mean you can perform any job at that railroad, from driving the spikes to building the engines. Except for the simplest kinds of manual labor, most employable skills require some degree of specialization. That’s why large numbers of people have to cooperate to make almost any kind of business work. Ayn Rand is loath to admit this, as you might expect.

In the end, the conflict is averted when Dagny puts out a call for volunteers, which in true Hollywood-cliche fashion gets an overwhelming response:

The anteroom of the office was full. Men stood jammed among the desks, against the walls. As she entered, they took their hats off in sudden silence. She saw the graying heads, the muscular shoulders, she saw the smiling faces of her staff at their desks… [p.218]

The real Taggart employees wouldn’t even think of joining a strike, because they know that Dagny is entirely benevolent and would never put them in danger either out of indifference or misjudgment. All they need is the assurance of their Glorious Corporate Leader to rush headlong into a potentially dangerous situation, because in Rand’s world, trusting your boss when they tell you it’s perfectly safe means you’ll always come out unscathed. It’s hard to imagine that even the most ardent Objectivist would argue that this lesson carries over into the real world.

Image credit: Tony Werman

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  • Ricker

    This section bothered me at the same time I felt some empathy towards it. I’m also twitching with anticipation for when you post about the final section of the first book, where Dagny speaks with all the previous TCM owners.
    But my observations:

    The biggest problem with Randworld is that it is never presented as possible or moral for the inovators to defend their product or work. They are automatically presented as being infallible, which is absolutely wrong. Even the most precise people, the smartest people, make mistakes. So that’s my first problem.

    My second problem is that none of the protagonists ever make the attempt to justify themselves. There is the automatic assumption that anything a capitalist/innovator/hero does is perfect, and anyone who questions it is villified. {I think you were noting the fallacy of this idea when you compared the Rearden’s bridge to d’Anconia’s housing complex (I initially missed that point)}. For me, this sets the story squarely apart from reality and helps build in my mind that this is all a fantasy world and tale.

    Here’s why I empathize with that scene though. I’m a chemical engineer; I develop projects that solve reliability/safety concerns and projects the increase revenue. I have no problems justifying these projects when the questions asked are valid. However, I have had to do a fair amount of extra work at times to answer some incredibly stupid questions, so I definitely understand the frustration at dealing with criticism from people who have no knowledge of the subject at hand. Part of me cheered when Dagny told the union guy off because part of me really hates dealing with people asking stupid questions. Of course, the cheering was based on the premise that all the criticism of Rearden Metal and the bridge was wrong and politically motived. My joy was the same sort of joy I would have had if Obama had sat down across from Ted Cruz and told him to suck a lemon about the ACA.

    The other part of me realized how incredibly warped RandWorld was, though. In her world, anyone who works for a government institution is inept, idiotic, useless. She views the government workers as the lowest form of parasite, and she treats them as such in her book. That view is a complete distortion of reality though. While government workers might not represent the brightest minds available, most of the people working in the specialty oversite areas are actually quite intelligent. Therefore in the real world, if the State Science Institute had expressed concerns about the composition of Rearden Metal or the Army Corp of Engineers had expressed concerns about the mechanical design of the JG Bridge, you can be damned sure that there was actually a problem that should be addressed.

  • David Andrew Kearney

    So, every Taggart employee is volunteering to work on the John Galt Line. But I thought good employees were so hard to find!

  • skyblue

    Many people here seem to be quite familiar with Objectivist thinking– can somebody explain to me what the Objectivist take on, say, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire would be? I can understand that in Randland, such a thing just wouldn’t happen, she suspends the laws of physics and human nature, but in the real world, given that it DID happen, what would they say was the problem? (Or, yikes, is it not even considered a problem, just part of the cost of doing business?)

    From what I’ve read about the situation in Bangladesh, a major problem is the government ineffectiveness/corruption in enforcing safety – but from what I’ve heard of Objectivism so far, it wouldn’t seem that they’d support a government solution…what then?

    I always wonder when I see people objecting to government involvement in an area where nothing else is doing anything to fix something that is clearly a problem.

  • grown-older-but-never-up

    As I read your ongoing review, I am looking for clues as to why I was so sucked into this book decades ago as a teenager. You’ve hit one big reason when you say of Rand’s protagonists that “other people desperately need them, but they don’t need anyone.” This is exactly tailored to be the wish-fulfillment of a teen uncertain of his place or value in the world. It probably wasn’t Rand’s intent to suck in an audience of angsty adolescents; that was just a by-product of writing to please herself.

  • Voidhawk

    It’s like people who complain about ‘oppressive’ health and safety regulations. For every case of a jobsworth demanding a pointless form in triplicate, there are ten lives saved because you’re no longer allowed to, say, work on scaffolding in high winds without a safety harness.
    I always feel queasy when I go abroad or look at old photos of people cheefully working without even the most basic personal protective equipment because I know the statistics in my industry and I know the sorts of injuries which can – and do – result.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Well since this discussion doesn’t get any participation, IFAIK, from True Objectivists, I had to go to the Objectivist Kremlin, the Ayn Rand Institute web site to try to get an answer.

    http://www.aynrand.org/

    I couldn’t find a reference to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire but I did find this editorial in Forbes by one of the listed Ayn Rand Institute speakers:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/11/08/atlas-shrugged-is-a-book-about-pride-in-ones-work-and-the-success-that-results/

    The piece doesn’t say anything about unions, though, and as always with fans of Rand and her work, the author believes that the problem with critics of Atlas Shrugged is that they just don’t get what Rand is saying:

    The book has been criticized often in the five decades since it was published. Most frustrating for those of us who love it are critiques that misunderstand its essential points and end up attacking straw men. Rand, they often say, believed that only the strong should survive or that a man’s worth is measured by the size of his wallet. Writing in the Business Insider, Max Nisen does all this but adds a new twist. In “‘Atlas Shrugged’ is Full of Terrible Business Advice,” Nisen criticizes the book for not being a better version of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

    Of course, Atlas Shrugged isn’t a business how-to manual. But it is full of powerful advice if you’re willing to consider what Rand actually says. Here are some of the real lessons in the novel that make it a favorite of so many productive, successful people.

    Take pride in your success.

    Like so many critics of Atlas Shrugged, Nisen claims Rand conveyed that successful people are inherently superior to everyone else. But anyone who has read the novel knows it is filled with noble characters who achieve only modest financial success. Eddie Willers, friend and ally to railway magnate Dagny Taggart; Gwen Ives, industrialist Hank Rearden’s superlative secretary; Cherryl Brooks, the store clerk who tragically marries a villain thinking he is a hero; Jeff Allen, the proud tramp who stows away on a Taggart train and is hired by Dagny; even a young bureaucrat who is assigned to monitor Rearden Steel and ends up becoming Rearden’s ally. The heroes in the novel don’t look down on these characters. They treat them as friends and allies. Clearly, Rand recognizes that moral character stems from the choices people make, not their wealth or status.

    You have to laugh at the list of “noble characters who achieved only modest financial success.” You have to wonder if Steve Simpson actually read the book.

    Eddie Willers and Gwen Ives exist only to serve their Ubermensch masters, Dagny and Rearden, respectively. They have no lives outside of their connection to their bosses, and Gwen Ives is described this way:

    …Gwen Ives, his secretary, had acted as his finest lieutenant. She was a girl in her late twenties, whose quietly harmonious impenetrable face had a quality matching the best-designed office equipment; she was one of his most ruthlessly competent employees; her manner of performing her duties suggested a kind of rational cleanliness that would consider any element of emotion, while at work, as an unpardonable immorality.

    Gwen Ives, with a face like quality office equipment, is the next best thing to having your own personal robot.

    Presumably Eddie did OK for himself, taking advantage of his lifelong friendship with the Taggarts to get a comfortable position in their company and so he might be said to have achieved “modest financial success” depending of course on how modest and success are defined. But if Simpson is including Gwen Ives then the phrase appears to mean nothing more than “being employed.”

    And Cherryl Brooks is only briefly employed. First she works at a crappy job, and then she marries James Taggart, so I guess marrying into money counts as financial success as far as Simpson is concerned.

    Jeff Allen is the bum on the train who exists to tell the story of how the Twentieth Century Motor Company heirs, the Starnes, forced their employees to collectivize the Starnes’ own factory (no I am not joking) thus making Galt go Galt. Allen was a worker at the company and again, the definition of “modest financial success” seems to be “had a job at some point in his life.”

    It should be noted that Dagny almost had Jeff Allen physically ejected from her moving train, but because he had a starched collar and a bag of possessions she decided that he was good enough to save from certain death. If Allen had lost his bag or his collar had been hidden by a scarf he would have been coyote food.

    The idea that “The heroes in the novel don’t look down on these characters. They treat them as friends and allies.” is a huge stretch. The heroes frankly don’t think about these “friends and allies” at all, ever, except for their utility value. And unless I missed something, at the end of Atlas Shrugged Eddie Willers is left to wander in the desert, and Dagny doesn’t express any curiosity about whatever happened to her oldest childhood friend.

  • Tova Rischi

    In my experience it would be rationalized away as an unfortunate but natural occurrence. If they did question the management allowing for that situation, maybe they might say mixed with management by a looter (ie someone not cut out for the job, bad management). Even with that I would assume they would see it as something that would have happened regardless of whether the unions got their way or not.

  • Jeff

    I don’t know about Objectivist thinking on that topic, but libertarian thinking would point toward the invisible hand. Their theory is that it ought be legal for a factory to run in whatever conditions its owner sees fit, with no regulation. If workers really have a problem with those conditions, they’ll refuse to work there. If consumers think it’s unethical to run a factory that way, they’ll refuse to buy those products. Eventually, the factory owner will either go out of business or be forced to change by the will of the market.

    This assumes several things: one, that consumers and would-be employees know EVERYTHING about how the business is run. Two, that nobody will ever be so desperate that they can’t refuse those products or a job making those products. Three, that a business owner will never decide to obfuscate a problem instead of fixing it (an extension of the first point, really). Four, that reactive fixes are better than preemptive ones.

    I put my first point first because, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the reason why the invisible hand theory is impossible. If that theory could possibly work AT ALL, then it would require that every single consumer know every single thing about every single business. Without that kind of knowledge, a person would not be able to make the informed purchasing decisions that drive the invisible hand. One could argue that consumers could make their purchasing decisions based on whether or not a company is hiding things (“they won’t disclose whether or not BPA is in their product; I’ll buy from somewhere else to demonstrate that I don’t approve of hiding potentially important information”), but this still leaves out any guarantee of accuracy regarding whatever information the consumer public gets. Without neutral and authoritative oversight (like from the government), a company could simply lie about their business practices, or lie about whether or not they’re disclosing everything. So you either have direct regulation of business, or you have regulation of the owners’ disclosure of their business practices, or you have a free-for-all in which a handful of people hold most of the power.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Angsty adolescents, Nathan and Barbara Branden, were the ones who built the Rand brand and created Objectivism. If she had not sucked in angsty adolescents to become her Collective she would now be a ridiculous footnote in literary history. It is entirely the hero-worship of adolescents that made Ayn Rand what she is today. And when you argue with Rand-worshippers you need to remember that you are basically arguing with intellectual adolescents – regardless of their age.

  • HA2

    In practice – they’d probably blame the Shirtwaist fire on the government in some way. See, it didn’t happen in an objectivist paradise – it happened under the watch of some government which did something to mess up the free market which would have otherwise prevented it.

  • Elizabeth

    Here’s an objectivist trying to respond to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. I only skimmed it, but it’s something about no one could have seen this coming, and the unions didn’t care about safety anyway. So we’ve learned our lesson and it will never happen again even if we repealed all safety laws because shut up that’s why. Also the Challenger exploded and unions have too much power.

  • skyblue

    That is really interesting, exactly what I was wondering about. I did read the whole thing and your summary was very accurate! :)

    I found the mention of the shuttle accidents interesting – claiming that “the left” thinks “the government can miracle a zero-harm environment”, really? That line made me laugh!

  • Nancy McClernan

    He actually says: “The Triangle fire was one of the first of a new breed of accidents–the industrial accident–and defending against it required a new type of thinking to protect both lives and investments.”

    As if industrial accidents had never happened before 1911. Wikipedia lists two US manufacturing disasters prior to Triangle Shirtwaist – one as early as 1860 – and that’s just manufacturing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_industrial_disasters

  • skyblue

    Wow, those are some depressing stories of “friends and allies”! If you’re not a Super-Capitalist, don’t worry, perhaps one of them will be able to use you for something (that benefits them, of course). How encouraging!

    Not surprising that critics of Atlas Shrugged are accused of not understanding its message, I suppose it’s just not possible that they understand it just fine, and disagree. (you know, just like it’s not possible for Rand’s heroes to do anything wrong!)

  • skyblue

    Yeah, I suppose it’s got to be explained in such a way that makes government/union intervention either useless or harmful – otherwise they might have some role to play in improving working conditions and we can’t have that!

  • Nancy McClernan

    The story of Eddie Willers is even worse than that. He confides his feelings to an incognito John Galt (clumsily disguised by Rand by giving no information about Willers’ confidant other than that he works for Taggart Transcontinental and having Willers speak in long monologues) because he has nobody else in the world to talk to. And he appears to have Hank Rearden syndrome – it takes years for his feelings to surface to his consciousness, and only when he finally figures out that Dagny and Rearden are having an affair does he realize he’s in love with Dagny himself, after knowing her since childhood.

    But since Dagny jettisons both d’Anconia and Rearden at the first sight of John Galt, it’s clear a non-Superman like Eddie Willers never has a chance.

    There’s only one role Rand had in mind for these so-called noble friends and allies – to serve their betters and then go away. That’s Objectivist morality right there.

  • smrnda

    This line is nonsense:

    “If you choose not to let them, the train will still run, if I have to
    drive the engine myself… If you think that I need your men more than
    they need me, choose accordingly. If you know that I can run an engine,
    but they can’t build a railroad, choose according to that.””

    Yes, a railroad company will succeed with 1 person available to operate the trains. They then have at most 1 train which can go in 1 direction at 1 time.

    Rand and her followers definitely view workers as less than human – since human value is defined entirely by work, and the value of work is entirely decided by the people running businesses, workers are commodities that can get used up and replaced and whose feelings and opinions don’t count. Rand depicts work as an intrinsic reward, but I see 0 evidence that she herself ever did real manual labor. The Bolshevists sent her to school, not to work, and then she did what, wardrobe selection for movies? Rand never had to do tough, difficult work which isn’t interesting, and probably thinks, like all Objectivists, most conservatives and a quite a few libertarians, that workers are lesser beings entitled only to shitty lives. People are going to get stuck doing shitty jobs, the least we can do is to make sure these people have decent lives outside of work. Privileged types don’t give a shit about the lives of the people whose thankless labor makes their privilege possible, and often take great pride in pissing and shitting on them as much as they can. I think part of the hatred is insecurity, the realization that had your parents not been who they were or had you been born elsewhere or missed out on some big breaks, you would be the prole.

    And on plot implausibility, faced by a refusal of workers, Dagney gets VOLUNTERS? Why doesn’t Rand just have a spaceship land and supply Dagny with little green men from mars to do the job? Rand should have had her fairy godmother run the line and built the tracks?

  • smrnda

    It’s like saying ‘the slave masters were not all bad! They had some house negroes they treated far better than the field hands who were depicted admirably in a novel written by a neo-Confederate!’

  • smrnda

    I wish every Objectivist could get sentenced to re-education through labor.

  • smrnda

    Exactly. She appeals to narcissism, and that’s about it.

  • smrnda

    I also find these people complaining about that or the ‘nanny state’ are usually not people who are the ones likely to face risks. Nothing like a white guy telling a woman that there don’t need to be protections for pregnant women in the workplace since ‘it’s too much nanny state meddling.’ Yeah, he isn’t the one going to be pregnant.

  • Jason Wexler

    In the context of our gods eye view of the world, knowing Dagney is right about Reardon metal and the bridge design I also empathized with her telling off the political hack who doesn’t understand whats going on. I think however it is important to remember or acknowledge that there is a difference in receiving arguments or criticisms from an uneducated politically motivated lay person and from a competent colleague or peer reviewer with plausible concerns. It is in the nature of we fallible human scientists and engineers and scholars to occasionally become biased towards our own results and work and often miss mistake or failings, which is why it is important to have a dialogue for lack of a better word to make sure criticisms aren’t valid or to explain to the critic why they aren’t. Dagney’s fail here is that she didn’t justify herself by going over the science and engineering etc. she merely expected to be treated as infallible, even if she is right, she should then be able to demonstrate it.

  • skyblue

    Good point about Dagny saying she can “run an engine”. Hope she doesn’t want to couple any cars to it, load any freight or passengers, hope it doesn’t need maintenance, hope she doesn’t need any signals and she trusts all the switches are in the right position before she gets going…

    And all the people who show up just clamoring to work for her, guess she can’t do it by herself after all, and that had to be resolved somehow.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    I think this is a likely answer, considering that Objectivists have done this in other cases of market failure. As I’ll mention later, they insist (completely erroneously) that the subprime mortgage crisis was caused by the government somehow forcing banks to make loans to unqualified borrowers.

  • skyblue

    Your point about public knowledge of business practices is a fantastic one, I think. Given that we have government regulation of business practices and information, and we still see companies getting caught lying and breaking the law, I think that about kills the argument that things would be better with less regulation.

  • Nancy McClernan

    It isn’t only Objectivists blaming Fannie and Freddie – that is standard conservative disinformation, from Greenspan on down:

    From Krugman’s column:

    (Greenspan’s book) you won’t be surprised to learn, a really terrible book on multiple levels. No acceptance of responsibility for anything; he retails the same old Big Lie about how Fannie and Freddie somehow coerced Wall Street into making bad loans; etc., etc..

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/24/greenspan-no-saving-grace/

    ***

    OK, leave on one side the caricature of Obama, with the usual mirror-image fallacy (we want smaller government, therefore liberals just want bigger government, never mind what it does); there we go with the “Barney Frank did it” story.
    Deregulation, the explosive growth of virtually unregulated shadow banking, lax lending standards by loan originators who sold their loans off as soon as they were made, had nothing to do with it — it was all the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie, and Freddie.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/marco-rubio-has-learned-nothing/

    ***

    But why did Fannie and Freddie have to be bailed out? Basically because they had virtually no capital, so that even though their losses as a percentage of assets were smaller than private institutions, the losses were still enough to put them underwater.

    None of this is meant to defend what F&F did or how they behaved. But there’s no contradiction between the assertion that F&F were bad institutions run by bad people, and the assertion that they played no important role in creating the financial crisis. The widespread belief that they did play such a role is the result of an effective right-wing disinformation campaign, not serious analysis.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/20/fannie-freddie-follies/

    ***

    Via David Dayen, the favored candidate of those who believe we need a smart centrist to solve our nation’s problems reveals himself to be completely ignorant about the causes of our economic crisis, someone who just swallows right-wing propaganda whole:

    “I hear your complaints,” Bloomberg said. “Some of them are totally unfounded. It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp. Now, I’m not saying I’m sure that was terrible policy, because a lot of those people who got homes still have them and they wouldn’t have gotten them without that.

    “But they were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will. They were the ones that pushed the banks to loan to everybody. And now we want to go vilify the banks because it’s one target, it’s easy to blame them and congress certainly isn’t going to blame themselves.

    You can read lots about how wrong this is; Mike Konczal has done it at great length, for example here. The fact is that for any public figure to go with the Congress-did-it argument at this stage is for him to reveal both that he is grossly ignorant about the central policy issue of the day and that he gets his “analysis” from right-wing flacks.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/michael-bloomberg-ignorant-yahoo/

    And there’s plenty more where that came from.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/?s=fannie

    ————

    Objectivist crackpot and Krugman obsessive Donald Luskin published a book in which he lists who today is the equivalent of Rand characters.

    And now for your amusement:

    Steve Jobs — Howard Roark
    Paul Krugman — Ellsworth Toohey
    John Allison — John Galt
    Angelo Mozilo — James Taggart
    Bill Gates — Henry Rearden
    Barney Frank — Wesley Mouch
    T. J. Rodgers — Francisco d’Anconia
    Alan Greenspan — Robert Stadler
    Milton Friedman — Hugh Akston

    http://dailyreckoning.com/a-review-of-i-am-john-galt/

  • smrnda

    The whole infallibility thing in her books is really irritating, since nobody competent would ever be so confident in their own abilities. I’ve seen some pretty major errors arise in code because someone happened to forget to use “is” instead of “==” in a comparison someplace.

    Reminds me of a quote by a mathematician I knew – “This book has been carefully proofread and edited, but the probability that at least one error remains is greater than 0.”

  • tyler

    you know what would be really interesting to see would be if someone wrote an alternate atlas shrugged where, after all of this build up, the bridge collapsed. i think it would be neat to see hank and dagny have to deal with failure.

    (side note: i can’t believe i’m considering atlas shrugged fanfiction………………..)

  • smrnda

    I don’t typically invoke Marx as I am not a Marxist, but I think something he said is fairly apropos here. Marx talked about how certain work (work done by proles) is more or less rendered invisible. Imagine how the janitors work, typically at night, where you don’t see them, so you only notice that the building stays clean but you are unaware of the labor that it takes to keep it that way. This practice, which makes the janitors invisible, is likely to lead to their work being devalued since nobody *sees it being done.*

    The workers who keep a train running are anonymous nobodys who have no visibility. To the bourgeois twits who ride the trains, it *seems like* the trains run themselves. To the management who run the trains, it seems like they give orders and the trains magically run as (to borrow an OS analogy) the details of the actual implementation are likely not visible to the Upper Management. It’s someone far lower who supervises the actual workers or actually runs things on the ground. This means that privileged people see their own labor, they see a world that is responsive to their demands, and they see themselves paying $ for stuff, but they see NONE of the labor that makes it possible. They imagine that they work and that the products and services are just magically *there* Marx called the way that we see products but don’t see the work that goes into them object fetishism. Rand is clearly doing exactly what Marx predicts – workers *magically appear* when the boss wants something done.

  • smrnda

    Do it! You can’t possibly write anything worse than the original!

  • arensb

    I never went through an Ayn Rand phase, but I did go through a Robert Heinlein phase, and a lot of the problems with Randworld appear in Heinleinworld as well. This post, in particular, reminded me of the a bit in Time Enough for Love

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion,
    butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance
    accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give
    orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem,
    pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently,
    die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    Yes, Heinlein’s protagonists are also omnicompetent.

  • Leeloo Dallas Multipass

    According to “Ayn Rand and the World She Made” by Anne Heller, she actually was an incredibly hard worker at the movie studio, working seventy hour weeks and gobbling Benzedrine like popcorn to keep going.

    It’s really a fascinating read. Reading the policies she advocates, it’s easy to think of her as some kind of monster, but I found myself in agreement with a lot of her underlying axioms. It’s just that she has this peculiar worship of “reason” and “rationality” above all else, including actual evidence and observation of results. So she’ll start with a premise like “nobody should be forced to spend their life working for someone else’s sake”, run it through a long chain of syllogisms, and prove that laissez-fair capitalism is the best system. Of course anyone can look at the world and see that the practical effect of laissez-fair capitalism is that quite a lot of people end up spending their lives toiling away for someone else’s sake, but that’s irrelevant to her, because her “reasoning” is solid.

  • Nancy McClernan

    She wrote Atlas Shrugged on speed too. But that doesn’t negate the fact that except for a few odd jobs in her youth, her entire work experience was in the business we call show. Being a hard working script writer isn’t the same as being a hard working manual laborer.

  • TBP100

    I was also drawn into her world for a while. I think the typical Randite is a smart but socially awkward teenager who is just sure he’ll get his due someday. That was certainly my case. Most such people eventually grow out of it, but sadly there are some who don’t. And as we see in the cases of Alan Greenspan and Paul Ryan they can do a lot of damage.

  • Jason Wexler

    So I am a long time fan of Heinlein even though I did recognize his preachyness and unbelievable often unlikable characters, so it’s almost funny that you chose to use “Time Enough for Love” as the quintessential example of his uber-characters, since for me that was the book that sent me off the deep end and put Heinlein down for good. He always wrote uber-characters but the way they just rubbed it in your face how much better they were then you in “Time Enough For Love” really rubbed me the wrong way, I kept shouting at the book I know you think your smarter but you’re not. For what it’s worth I’ve actually done everything on that list except fight efficiently and die gallantly neither of which I would want to do. Although I suppose conning a ship only counts in the theoretical in so far as I can fly a plane and sail a boat.

  • Jason Wexler

    How much fan fic do you read?

  • Jason Wexler

    I hope you are proud of yourself… now I have a fan fic story in my head now and have to get it out. I take your challenge I will write something worse than the original.

  • fuguewriter

    I do not agree that the heroes never make errors. Rearden comes up with his revolutionary bridge design by misremembering his idea of combining two bridge types. (In Rand’s previous novel, Roark says he produces more garbage than other architects, but his garage ends up in the ash can and not on the street.)

  • Jason Wexler
  • tyler

    i’m not sure whether i’ve inspired something amazing or terrible

    either way this is delightful

  • Jason Wexler

    Well, I have just sat down to write the next segment so we shall see check back at that site periodically as that’s where I will upload the story when it’s done.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Given that Rearden’s mistake results in a synergistic breakthrough, I think you need to find another example of Rand’s heroes making errors.

    And even their inabilities are portrayed as virtues – the one in particular I remember, where Rearden basically admits he can’t do a standard business deal because he lacks the ability to “read” people (one of the reasons I think Rand might have been on the Aspergers spectrum):

    Rearden had to decide how much he could risk to invest upon the sole evidence of a man’s face, manner and tone of voice…

    (Rearden speaking)

    “I guess I’m not smart enough to make the sort of deals needed nowadays,” he said in answer to the unspoken thought that hung across his desk.
    The purchasing manager shook his head. “No Mr. Rearden, it’s one or the other. The same kind of brain can’t do both. Either you’re good at running the mills or you’re good at running Washington.”
    “Maybe I ought to learn their methods.”
    “You couldn’t learn it and it wouldn’t do you any good. You wouldn’t win in any of those deals. Don’t you understand? You’re the one who’s got something to be looted.”

    As virtually everybody knows, “the sort of deals needed nowadays” are the sort of deals – sizing up other people in order to determine the most advantageous position when making a transaction for goods and services – that have always been needed.

    But Rand decides that the ability to read people isn’t a business skill, it’s a government skill. And so Hank being unable to cut business deals in the standard way is sign of his virtue and titan-of-industry abilities.

    As I recall, Dagny is able to start up an airplane by jumping in and switching it on like it was a car and then taking off.

    Ragnar Danneskjold, a student of philosophy and physics is able to switch over to sailing the high seas robbing government vessels without ever being captured or even failing once to successfully complete the robbery.

    But the gold standard for Rand hero achievement has to be d’Anconia who can do everything perfectly the first time he tries it, including hitting a baseball and driving a motorboat.

    And on top of that he can endure nine years of celibacy in the prime of his youth while at the same time courting women incessantly in order to be mistaken for an international playboy, because he’s holding out for Dagny. When Dagny ditches him for Galt, d’Anconia friendzones himself, not only without a word of complaint, but without even being asked to do so by Dagny.

    They are paragons, every one. Rand saw herself that way too. When people questioned the believability of her heroes she would point to herself, and sometimes her husband, her boyfriend and his wife as well, as examples of real live Objectivist heroes. She was utterly delusional, but since everybody was making money from various Shrugged-related projects, nobody bothered to try to acquaint her with reality – until her boyfriend ditched her (and his wife) for another woman. At which point Rand had a complete meltdown.

  • smrnda

    Rand and her speed popping reminds me of a friend of mine who told me that when he was in art school, there were all these incredibly prolific drug using artists. He said that drugs did not actually encourage creativity – they sometimes increased energy, decreased inhibitions, and made it impossible for people to tell if they were making something decent or making something crap. The drug using artists tended to produce lots of work that just… wasn’t that good, because on drugs, staring at your shoe can become entertaining.

    On reasoning from axioms, this doesn’t work in the real world because we are living in a physical universe, not a formal system defined by axioms. Unless we have accurate knowledge, all of our correct steps in reasoning are crap. I suspect Rand is a lot like people who use presuppositional apologetics – they feel everybody has to make assumptions, that all assumptions are equal, therefore, their worldview just works.

  • Shockna

    Atlas Shrugged fanfiction: So utterly brilliant, yet if I went back in time one hour to tell myself that, I’d think I was insane.

    Excellent first post, I’ll be checking for future updates!

  • Azkyroth

    But the whining would be audible from low earth orbit D:

  • Azkyroth

    I know I’ve seen a lot of claims that the subprime mortgage crisis was caused by the government forcing banks to lend to non-whites.

  • smrnda

    If Rand had pointed to herself, I would have given her a list of tasks to perform, and then, when she failed to do so, laughed my ass off.

    This is the problem with people being too polite – the bullshitters never get put to the test. If Ayn Rand had *failed to perform* when given actual mentally demanding tasks to do, I suspect her cult would have diminished a bit.

  • smrnda

    Well, at least that would cement their reputation as narcissistic whiners.

  • smrnda

    I recall reading a few Heinlein books – Sixth Column struck me as tastelessly racist, and I thought a few other ones were just bad attempts at soft-core porn, though I thought Waldo was almost readable, probably since the protagonist was supposed to be capable and still irritating and the story was him becoming more (sociable?)

    Sometimes I think the best characters are ones that are flawed, possibly screw-ups, but still totally charming and engaging. Sherlock Holmes, for example, has immense intelligence but tends to be self-deprecating at times, does drugs, does more drugs, and lives in his own filth (for an example likely everybody has heard of) which is probably why the character still has fans.

  • smrnda

    I’m going to say your writing is better than hers, and you are able to make a point in less than 50 pages.

  • Jason Wexler

    Yes but I do terrible dialogue transitions. I’ve updated again Dagny and Shaniqua have met and exchanged words. Maybe you will find it more tedious after I write the next section when Dagny is interviewed by a forensic investigator.

  • fuguewriter

    The claim was that the characters don’t make errors. He did – and it led to a breakthrough. If you want an instance of a major screwup, look at rearden’s marriage. Or Dagny thinking she can somehow run the country’s economy by her own ability. Rand put in these errors deliberately.

    That’s a forced interpretation of Rearden. He wasn’t referring to non-verbal dimension.

    As for Rand, people who actually interacted with her personally – I know some of them – had the opposite impression: that she could read them completely. The (positively-turned, of course) oral history “100 Voices” shows Rand again and again acting with empathy. How many people looked at an unpermitted, disorganized demonstration in the 1960s and got mad at how many ambulances it would delay? One account has her going out to dinner with a bunch of people and being the only person to notice that one of the people, who had an arm in a sling, was unable to put cream in his coffee – so she got it for him, and I think either did it herself or brought it to him so he could do it – all without a word being said. That’s not an unempathic person or an “Aspergian” (quotes because it’s now out of the DSM).

    My take is that when Rand is really read and understood, if she has to be seen to have an issue she’s knawing on, it’s being a highly emotional and highly empathic – yes! – person, struggling with her mission and what she saw to be true.

    She always said “the lower classes” (didn’t believe in classism) were the worst screwed by crony capitalism – and note how her worst villain is a crony capitalist – and worthless heir – and CEO!

    She’s not as simple as folks who want to make her their whipping lady like to think.

  • fuguewriter

    Your objection is a bit obscure. She never claimed to be perfect. She quite easily talks about her quirks in her biographical interviews of the early 1960s – calls herself an absent-minded professor type, is sometimes alienated from the material world, has a slight separation between thinking and action. She did it in publc too – in her James Day interview (see YouTube) she says she “not to good with exact figures.” And she makes an addition booboo, quickly corrected, in that interview. She was opposed to *social* ego in the boastful or preening sense. Like almost every psychologist, too, she saw that as coming from a deficient self.

  • skyblue

    I just read your “alternate Atlas Shrugged”. Much better than the original (which I haven’t read, but have seen the snippets here). Nice job!!!

    But….with Dagny in a coma and Rearden dead, however did the world continue to turn?

  • Jason Wexler

    Well I would say the obvious answer is that the three philosopher-physicists Francisco d’Anconia, John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjold swooped in to save the day, but that would be dishonest of me as the section I am planning on writing this afternoon will have Dagny learning the fate of those three and unless my characters take over the story and rewrite it and they always do, they couldn’t run the world either. However thank you for the kind words.

  • Nancy McClernan

    LOL – yes she liked to go on about how people should behave, but failed miserably to live up to her precepts.

    Here’s a story about how little Rand cared about preening, told by one of Rand’s most slavishly devoted sycophants.

    …she couldn’t get a cab. So she decided to take the bus. As she was sitting down, she noticed that the woman in front of her had a paperback copy of The Fountainhead, an edition that had her picture on the back cover. Now, here’s the charming, playful aspect of Ayn Rand. She tapped the woman on the shoulder, the woman turned around and said, “Yes?” and Ayn pointed to the paperback and told the woman to look on the back cover. When the woman realized that Ayn Rand was sitting behind her on the bus, she was very surprised and excited. She asked Ayn to autograph her book, which Ayn did. Then other people on the bus observed what was happening and inquired about the woman signing autographs, and this led to a few others requesting autographs. Ayn told this story with such delight, and said it was the best bus ride she had ever had.

    http://facetsofaynrand.com/book/chap4.html

    Why was this the best bus ride Ayn Rand ever had? Because people were fawning all over her, asking for autographs.

    And the best part is that Rand could have remained anonymous for the bus ride, but instead forced the woman reading The Fountainhead to acknowledge her.

    The only thing worse than Rand’s hypocrisy is how blind followers are to Dear Leader’s faults.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Rand has no problem at all with crony capitalism. Dagny and James both got their jobs because they were born into the company, and Eddie Willers got his job thanks to knowing them since childhood. And of course Francisco d’Anconia was born into a dynasty. She’s just fine with crony capitalism if the beneficiaries are her Ubermensch.

    She was also just fine with sponging off her relatives in Chicago and never thanking them for it – instead always claiming that nobody ever helped her.

  • fuguewriter

    I think you need to look up the definition of “preen.” That wasn’t preening – she was having fun. As usual, no hypocrisy found, but you’re fast with the LOLs.

  • fuguewriter

    You don’t even know the definition of “crony capitalism.” It means being in bed with the government and using government force to smash competitors. Just like James Taggart does, to Dagny’s fury. Dagny and Francisco both earned their way up, incidentally.

  • Nancy McClernan

    If you want an instance of a major screwup, look at rearden’s marriage. Or Dagny thinking she can somehow run the country’s economy by her own ability. Rand put in these errors deliberately.

    Yes Rearden’s marriage is another example of the extremely peculiar aspect of Rearden that is never explained – why it takes him so incredibly long to acknowledge and act on his emotions. At some point in the book it’s mentioned that he realized he didn’t like Lilian about a month into the marriage. And yet he stays with her for nine years, having sex with her out of obligation – and Lillian is having sex with him out of obligation!

    And divorce is not illegal in this universe. And Lillian is completely financially dependent of Rearden so he could have left her at any time.

    And we know why Rearden made the mistake of marrying Lillian – because she gave him the impression that she loved smelting metal as much as he did.

    These characters are the oddest representations of humanity I’ve ever read.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Or Dagny thinking she can somehow run the country’s economy by her own ability. Rand put in these errors deliberately.

    Yes of course she put it in deliberately. If Dagny did not think that, the book would have ended. So Rand had to give Dagny one flaw – and of course an heroic one by the lights of Atlas Shrugged – in order to drag out an already pointlessly long narrative.

    And the only reason Dagny failed was because she was up against John Galt, the greatest of all the Ubermensch, who could bring down the United States in his spare time.

  • Nancy McClernan

    That’s a forced interpretation of Rearden. He wasn’t referring to non-verbal dimension.

    No idea what you are on about here. What “dimension” is he referring to?

  • fuguewriter

    I agree that Rearden takes a tremendously long time to wake up to what’s going on in his personal life. I’d have to reply this was conceived in the 40s, when divorce was possible but socially shameful, Lillian would have gotten a huge amount of his wealth, and he was a hyper-honorable repressed guy. We know there are many people in miserable marriages who stay in them. Rand wasn’t representing people in the, as she would say, journalistic sense, but instead heightening certain traits. She was no realist – consciously.

  • fuguewriter

    You seemed to be joining AR’s or Rearden’s purported inability to read people with your next-paragraph quote of Rearden. Why the quote, then, if you weren’t saying he admitted he could not read people?

  • Nancy McClernan

    As for Rand, people who actually interacted with her personally – I know some of them – had the opposite impression: that she could read them completely.

    Because they were Ayn Rand sort of people. Anybody not inclined to accept the worldview of Rand would find themselves in a battle with her, and so were not likely to have any lengthy conversations.

    She was infamous for having meltdowns on stage whenever she was challenged by an audience member, screaming at them and trying to humiliate them whenever possible.

    My take is that when Rand is really read and understood, if she has to be seen to have an issue she’s knawing on, it’s being a highly emotional and highly empathic – yes! – person, struggling with her mission and what she saw to be true.

    No idea what you’re trying to say here. Let’s have examples of Rand’s empathy.

    But no defense of Rand can be complete without the defender saying or implying that critics don’t really understand her or her work. Glad you got that in there. Now let’s have some actual examples of how critics aren’t really understanding Rand.

  • fuguewriter

    Nope, a number of them were people who disagreed with her – including, on one memorable occasion, a Trotskyite who worked with her in publishing. He said she was a good listener and very empathetic when he’d hold forth about his family problems and so on. Read “100 Voices” – it’s chock full of empathetic behaviors. Example: her doctor (who disagreed with her philosophy) said she was almost disregarding of her own physical welfare compared to the great attention she paid to her husband. Example: her vet (not an O’ist) said she was very concerned over her animals’ health and thought she understood them spiritually.

    Your description of her “meltdowns” is nonsensical. No offense, but factually it is. Her public appearances are on YouTube and on the ARI website, complete with Q&A. She handled polite disagreement generally politely if forcefully, usually didn’t get obnoxious personal challenges, and when she did was certainly powerful in response. Watch the “Donahue” appearances, both of them. One woman makes a directly insulting comment to her – “I…used to belong to your cult” (from memory) and Rand cuts her off and refuses to deal with her personally on the grounds it sanctions her insult. That’s not out of order in formal public speaking, and the woman was a jerk in how she went about it. Donahue tries to be peacemaker – Rand, for her part, could have explained her way of doing things more expansively – at one point she calls the woman a hippy, when we can see – she couldn’t – that this woman was a nerdy proto-Yuppie. What Rand was talking about was the breakdown in politeness she saw begin with the New Left, etc., but to a normal listened it would have been puzzling.

    So, yeah. Your description is way out there – as anyone whose taken the time to read and listen through this stuff can tell.

  • Nancy McClernan

    One account has her going out to dinner with a bunch of people and being the only person to notice that one of the people, who had an arm in a sling, was unable to put cream in his coffee – so she got it for him, and I think either did it herself or brought it to him so he could do it – all without a word being said. That’s not an unempathic person or an “Aspergian” (quotes because it’s now out of the DSM).

    This is the only example that I’ve ever seen given as an example of Rand’s empathy. Apparently Rand putting cream into someone’s coffee, an incredibly minor act, was considered so significant that all her followers remembered it.

    I did not claim that people on the Asperger’s spectrum are incapable of empathy, so I don’t know why you are making the connection.

    I said Asperger’s based on Hank Rearden’s inability to read people. Not the same as lack of empathy.

    Certainly Rand was unable to read her husband – by all accounts he loved California and it was a huge hardship for him to move to a small apartment in Manhattan from the big ranch and flower business he had had. But Rand always insisted Frank hated California.

  • Nancy McClernan

    And where did anybody say that Rand claimed to be perfect? I claimed that Rand presented herself as the embodiment of an Atlas Shrugged hero. Would you like to dispute that, instead of the utterances of your straw men?

  • Azkyroth

    That’s not an [...] “Aspergian” (quotes because it’s now out of the DSM).

    Actually, that’s very the sort of thing I might do, you thoughtless jerk.

    (Oh, wait, never mind, Nancy’s starting up with that shit again).

  • fuguewriter

    If you haven’t read “100 Voices” – which has loads of instances – you haven’t been looking.

  • smrnda

    Ayn Rand required that her followers consider her opinions to always be the right opinions; that’s basically the philosophy of Objectivism. You don’t get any more arrogant than that, except maybe by writing a book that concerns engineering without bothering to learn anything about how engineering and R & D actually work.

  • smrnda

    The problem is that Rand’s answer to crony capitalism is a system which would do nothing for the lower classes, and one can have no excuse for being so dimwitted as to believe her solutions work.

    She clearly thinks that outside of work, no other human activity has value, and her only problem with the lower classes is that they have desires to be anything other than Perfect Workers. It’s the same viewpoint as Stalin, with workers existing for the glory of the regime and not the other way around.

    “The claim was that the characters don’t make errors. He did – and it led to a breakthrough.”

    Meaning, of course, that the only faults of the characters never end up being real faults. She writes an army of Mary Sues and nothing else.

    On her ‘the demonstration will delay ambulances!’ Please, right-wingers foam at the mouth with mock concern on any number of issues just to belittle people protesting unjust conditions. It’s kind of how if someone brings up GLBT kids bullied in school someone will say ”why isn’t anyone thinking about the fat kids getting bullied?” That person doesn’t care about fat kids getting bullied, they just want to poo poo others.

    Rand also spoke approvingly of the genocide against First Nations people in the US. I think once you express that opinion, you’ve dug a hole for yourself that getting 1000 cups of coffee for 1000 people with their arms in slings won’t get you out of.

    Rand and that incident reminds me of people who would like to revoke ADA, abolish all aid for the disabled but who will try to be *helpful* to me. Fuck your stupid trivial courtesy, the public policies make a bigger difference than some piddling little favor done more for the ego of the helper than the needs of the person being helped.

  • smrnda

    I thought you were trying to replicate her style? It’s kind of how in Hemingway’s writing, all the characters talk in exactly the same way as the narrator, except they may occasionally use a word in Spanish.

  • smrnda

    You know, one of the protagonists should suddenly get sick, or get cancer or something or have a stroke or heart attack and become unable to work. These sorts of things do happen but never in Randworld.

  • Jason Wexler

    Thank you.

  • Jason Wexler

    I thought Dagny was the protagonist…

    She’s lost three of her limbs and will undoubtedly face criminal prosecution for what she did I am pretty sure that’s a bad thing.

    I am not really planning on bringing back any of the characters I introduce, they are just invisible Randian walk-on characters and I’d say that both Vera Flannigan and Shaniqua Garrison have had their fair share of bad luck recently. I don’t know maybe the eventual prosecutor if I ever get there should lose the case. I am struggling with the next section it turns out its hard to come up with an explanation for why Rearden metal failed, when I am doing chemistry from the middle of the equation with a known starting and ending point.

  • smrnda

    So, getting a high-paying job high up in the hierarchy because you happen to be related to So and So where you won’t be expected to do much isn’t crony capitalism? It might not be crony capitalism by your definition, but it’s definitely a case of people being afforded opportunities based on personal connections and social capital rather than merit or ability. It’s definitely a case of a job market where certain very desirable jobs are never really open to everybody.

    On other things, businesses do things so that their management and shareholders can avoid taking risk, diverting the fall-out of possible bad decisions to people lower in the hierarchy. If a poorly conceived strategy results in a loss, the people who made the bad decision will lay off workers or slash their pay before they agree to take a hit themselves. CEOs who are bumbling failures get golden parachutes since members of the ruling class have decided that no matter how badly one of their own fucks up, they’ll always be taken care of.

  • smrnda

    On the toiling for someone else, her take would probably be that since it isn’t a government requirement, it’s not really involuntary. Of course, people like her have an odd idea of ‘voluntary’ which ends up being meaningless.

  • Nancy McClernan

    So you can’t think of any and you expect me to do the work of looking for them. No thanks.

  • fuguewriter

    A number have been given. You have a bias and don’t want it disturbed. Understood.

  • fuguewriter

    T’wasn’t what happened. Dagny and Francisco, as presented, rose without any boosts. Note that the greatest fortune-maker of all would have been Galt, who came from the working class (like Rearden), but he withdrew his efforts.

  • uykhvasdrvtjyku

    “This is exactly tailored to be the wish-fulfillment of a teen uncertain of his place or value in the world”

    And how ironic that people of that age are highly dependent on others, consuming large amounts of resources but producing little or none themselves.

    I think what’s going on is that teens are starting to become independent but are still frustrated at their dependence on their parents, and it flatters their egos to think that they don’t need anyone’s rules. It’s understandable. What’s not understandable is that people continue this belief long after they should know better.

  • fuguewriter

    Rand didn’t believe in static “classes” – so, yes, nothing would be done for any “class.” Any “class”. Besides, who does it? Government cannot magically make production and innovation happen. More like the opposite.

    Economic freedom improves the lot of everyone. Shall we take the many dozens of trillions in unfunded liabilities in the U.S. as an example of what welfare statism conveys upon all of our heads?

  • fuguewriter

    No, actually she didn’t. There was definitely a lot of follower-mentality there, and I would not have gotten along in it. (I’m not an Objectivist, incidentally.) But it’s not the case that she insisted that all be guided by her every preference. If you claim it was, the onus is on you: produce a primary source showing it.

  • Nancy McClernan

    So apparently you haven’t read the recent biographies of Rand, nor Barbara Branden’s biography, nor Nathaniel Branden’s two versions of his memoirs as I have. I’m talking about the public forums run through the NBI.

    So here’s something you apparently haven’t heard about, thanks to living in an Objectivist bubble. This is from The Passion of Ayn Rand:

    It was the question period – the event she once most enjoyed – that gradually became the arena in which Ayn was especially bewildering and damaging to her students, all at once becoming enraged by an innocent question and lashing out furiously at the hapless questioner. Margit von Mises was to say, “Lu and I attended one of two of the Nathaniel Branden Institute lectures, and I was shocked at Ayn Rand’s behavior. She was on the podium, smoking one of her cigarettes in that long black holder. Someone asked her a question, and she answered in such a rude, disagreeable way that I couldn’t understand how anyone could take it. She just killed the questioner with her reply…”

    Ultimately, students either ceased asking her questions, or framed them with such care that they became meaningless.”

    Obviously the ARI web site isn’t going to post anything embarrassing to Dear Leader.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Here’s an example of what I’ve come to consider, after all I’ve read about her, to be quintessential Ayn Rand – these are excerpts from The Passion of Ayn Rand:

    A highly intelligent young woman of twenty, a dancer and a member of the “junior collective,” had personal problems in her romantic relationship with a friend of Ayn’s. Ayn, Frank (O’Conner, Rand’s husband), her lover, and I were present when Nathaniel (Branden) called her in for a discussion of her psychology. Such evenings were becoming a commonplace in Ayn’s dealings. The evidence was presented, the diagnosis of social metaphysician was made…

    That evening, Ayn exhibited a lack of human empathy that was astonishing. As Nathaniel, who conducted the conversation – it had the aura of a trial, except that the accused had no defense attorney – was pointing out the young woman’s psychological deficiencies, he occasionally made some especially compelling point, succinct and well phrased. Each time, Ayn chuckled with appreciation – and clapped her hands in applause.

    The girl, like others of Ayn’s friends caught in similar situations, was to find a means of ridding herself of guilt. The means, as her paper indicates, was emotional repression. “I’m afraid to care about anything, because I’m afraid I’ll get all mixed up again.” She, like they, began the process of changing from an open, spontaneous, enthusiastic young woman into a rigid thinking machine. It was done as an act of self-preservation: one must not experience emotions that might brand one as immoral…

    …No one achieves power who does not seek it; had she not insisted upon being viewed as a goddess, she would not have been so viewed. Nevertheless, the adulation she received was a great disservice to her. She needed to be challenged when she applauded a young woman’s agony – or when she spoke of Aristotle as the only thinker in history from whom she had had anything to learn – or when she demanded, in her affair with Nathaniel, that a set of rules be held as applicable to her that were not applicable to others – or when she flew into a rage, as she did with her attorney, Pincus Berner, at his suggestion that everyone, including herself, had at some time done what they knew to be wrong – or when she made it implicitly clear that any criticism of her was an act of treason to reason and morality. But had the attitude of her friends been different, it is likely that she would have renounced them and surrounded herself with people who would give her what she needed…

  • fuguewriter

    I have read them, actually – one of them in advance copy – and know those two authors personally a little bit. I’ve known others who knew AR, on all sides of the spectrum – including some family members. When you’ve sat down with Tom Snyder for thirty minutes in his living room and talked for some of those minutes about how much he liked her, do let me know. I’m not quite sure what bubble that is, since I’m not an Objectivist. But, then, you’re having an argument in your own head for much of this. You’re making fact-claims that are generally at variance with fact. Don’t infer from that that I agree with Ayn Rand in everything or even necessarily most things. I’m closer to D.H. Lawrence and Zen Buddhism, if anything – which she would abominate. Always regretted I didn’t get to argue anything out with her, but I was too young and she was too old. Alas!

  • fuguewriter

    These incidents don’t establish what you claimed. You’re going to have to produce more than that – much more. You were making categorical claims about Rand’s character, and I indicated incidents that show you were mistaken. Could Rand set the bar incredibly high? Clearly yes. Was she sometimes not seeing the intentions of others? I think so. Was she a person of violent intensity? Most definitely. She was extreme at all ends of the spectrum; and it’s curious how you dismiss the numerous instances of her being emotionally very positive.

    I think one of her main strengths *and* limitations is that she was operating from a highly specific system, and her mind moved very, very fast. I happen not to agree with her account of how human emotions work, so I’m unable to follow her system. But I’ll take the word of the Trotskyite who worked with her and talked to her about his troubles: “She’s just a loveable little old grandmother from Leningrad!” Her niece said the same thing to me: that when visiting, she was fun and even kooky. Their words: not mine.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Why don’t you go whining to Adam like you did last time, and try to get me banned because I’ve dared to propose ideas that you have decided are forbidden, like the authoritarian you are?

    Or better yet, why don’t you start your own blog where you can ban all those who commit thoughtcrimes?

  • Nancy McClernan

    The implication is that Rearden is unable to read people. And this isn’t the only time that Rearden admits to being completely baffled by other peoples’ motivations. This is from early in part 2 of Atlas Shrugged:

    “Dagny, they’re doing something we’ve never understood. They know something we don’t, but should discover. I can’t see it fully yet, but I’m beginning to see parts of it. That looter from the State Science Institute (not Stadler somebody else) was scared when I refused to help him pretend that he was just an honest buyer of my Metal. He was scared way deep. Of what? Public opinion was just his name for it, but it’s not the full name. Why should he have been scared? He has the guns, the jails, the laws – he could have seized the whole of my mills, if he wished, and nobody would have risen to defend me, and he knew it – so why should he have cared what I thought? But he did. It was I who had to tell him he wasn’t a looter but a customer and friend. That’s what he needed from me. And that’s what Dr. Stadler needed from you – it was you who had to act as if he were a great man who had never tried to destroy your rail or my Metal. I don’t know what it is that they think they accomplish – but they want us to pretend we see the world as they pretend they see it. They need some sort of sanction from us. I don’t know the nature of that sanction, but, Dagny – I know that if we value our lives, we must not give it to them. If they put you on a torture rack, don’t give it to them. Let them destroy your railroad and my mills, but don’t give it to them. Because I know this much: that’s our only chance…

    …Yes,” she said. “yes, I know what you’ve seen in them… I’ve felt it too – but it’s only like something brushing past that’s gone before I know I’ve seen it, like a touch of cold air, and what’s left is always the feeling that I should have stopped it… I know that you’re right. I can’t understand their game but this much is right: We must not see the world as they want us to see it. It’s some sort of fraud, very ancient and vast – and the key to break it is: to check every premise they teach us, to question every precept, to – ”

    Now as one of the few apparent Objectivists to participate in this ongoing Atlas Shrugged analysis, why don’t you explain to me what Rearden is babbling on about when he says:

    they want us to pretend we see the world as they pretend they see it. They need some sort of sanction from us.

    And then you can explain what Dagny is going on about when she says:

    We must not see the world as they want us to see it. It’s some sort of fraud, very ancient and vast – and the key to break it is: to check every premise they teach us, to question every precept

    Do you think they’re talking about Communists? Do you consider Communism to be “very ancient and vast”? Do you think that Rand’s ideological opponents are only “pretending” to believe what they believe, as Rand’s heroes apparently do? Do you have a reason for why this ancient and vast cult of sanction-cravers are “pretending”?

    Or is this the expression of a neuro- atypical who is completely baffled why another human being would care about social affirmation – aka “sanction”? So baffled, so unable to comprehend such a state of mind that she concludes that they can’t really have such feelings and are, nefariously, “pretending” to see the world that way.

  • Nancy McClernan

    If I am remembering correctly, Rearden manages to leave Lillian without a dime.

    And Rearden doesn’t only take a long time to deal with the divorce – he also takes two years to realize that he wants Dagny – as was discussed in the last post in this series.

    It happens again in the unique description of Rearden realizing he has a deep man-crush on d’Anconia.

    It’s a peculiar character trait that Rand never bothers to discuss or explain. If Rand had permitted the editors at Random House to do their jobs, maybe they would have pointed this out to her – but since she refused to allow them to do their jobs, Atlas Shrugged is such a big ugly bizarre mess.

  • fuguewriter

    Rearden does this at the end, after paying a huge bribe – after the legal system has broken down.

  • fuguewriter

    That isn’t the implication. He’s quietly, in his repressed way, pointing out the evil of the times.

  • Nancy McClernan

    That was my error, assuming that cronyism included nepotism rather than only government ties.

    And it’s true, except for James Taggart, the Taggart family would rather assault government officials, or threaten them or bribe them to get what they want, than try to be friends with government officials.

    It was said that in the wilderness of the Middle West, he murdered a state legislator who attempted to revoke a charter granted to him, to revoke it when his rail was laid halfway across the state; some legislators had planned to make a fortune on Taggart stock – by selling it short. Nat Taggart was indicted for the murder, but the charge could never be proved. He had no trouble with legislators from then on.

    It was said that Nat Taggart had staked his life on his railroad many times: but once, he staked more than his life. Desperate for funds, with the construction of his line suspended, he threw down three flights of stairs a distinguished gentleman who offered him a loan from the government. Then he pledged his wife as security for a loan from a millionaire who hated him and admired her beauty. He repaid the loan on time and did not have to surrender his pledge. The deal had been made with his wife’s consent…

    Eddie Willers was watching her. He stood on the platform, surrounded by Taggart executives, division heads, civic leaders and the various local officials who had been outargued, bribed or threatened, to obtain permits to run a train through town zones at a hundred miles an hour.

  • fuguewriter

    If you study Rand’s work, you’ll see that crony businessmen are some of her worst characters.

    As for Nat Taggart – those politicians used the force of the gun against him. Initiation of force – heard of it?

  • Nancy McClernan

    I see – so if Dear Leader has the best bus ride ever because she forced a fellow passenger to notice her, and then is asked for autographs, it isn’t really “preening” it’s just “having fun.”

    Well since Objectivists have already determined that Dear Leader Does Not Preen, then of course any signs of what would be preening in other people will be reinterpreted to fit the group belief-system.

    The story of Ayn Rand on the bus was told by Ayn Rand herself, and it’s one of the reasons I think it far more likely she was on the Asperger’s spectrum than that she was a sociopath, as some people claim. A sociopath would be much slicker about her reputation, I think. The Objectivist narrative was that Rand didn’t care about accolades and didn’t preen – and yet she recounts a story of her own actions which would be interpreted as preening unless you’ve already bought the premise that Rand didn’t preen.

    Now since Rand surrounded herself with fawning sycophants, her account would not be used against her. But I think a classic sociopath would be just a little more savvy of public opinion.

    It isn’t proven that Rand was on the spectrum, of course. But she shared many traits in common with descriptions of people on the spectrum: she couldn’t do small talk, she collected rocks and later stamps, she was fascinated with technology, especially trains, she didn’t get many jokes, she hated to have her plans changed and had a hard time adjusting. She had a hard time making friends in childhood. She doesn’t understand why people need social approval.

    As noted in Ayn Rand and the World She Made:

    In unfinished notes for a stunningly harsh and anti-social novella called The Little Street (1928) based on the actual trial of a notorious killer named William Hickman, she took a page from Sherwood Andersen and Sinclair Lewis, and presented a cast of small town jurors and spectators who were fat, stupid and placid: “human herds… who have but one aim: to ruin all individuals and individuality.”

    In spite of the novella’s hateful tone, it formulates her great theme: the exceptional individual against the mob of men. Of the protagonist in her story, a murderer, she wrote, “He doesn’t understand, because thankfully he has no organ for understanding the necessity, meaning or importance of other people. Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should.”

    Although I think the author is being generous to Rand. I don’t think it’s “in spite of the novella’s hateful tone…” I think it’s because of the novella’s hateful tone, and the hateful tone anticipates Atlas Shrugged.

  • fuguewriter

    “Forced” – Uh huh. She sure forced that poor, unwilling bus passenger.

    And yes. There is no evidence she was preening. Ah, but that’s the first thing tossed out – evidence.

  • Nancy McClernan

    And actually, although nobody here said Rand claimed to be perfect…

    She gave up smoking but refused the Blumenthal’s request to make her decision public, even though, as they reminded her, she had indirectly or directly encouraged her fans to smoke. She still denied that there was any conclusive, nonstatistical evidence to prove that smoking caused cancer. The Blumethals understood that she was all but unable to admit to imperfections and mistakes…

    p. 393 from Ayn Rand and the Worlds She Made by Anne C. Heller.

  • Nancy McClernan

    And FYI being a Trotskyite doesn’t prevent someone from being a Rand kind of person – rigid thinking, insistence on only one way to view the world (“objectively”), interested in imposing one’s belief system on the world. I don’t see any disconnect there.

    And since when is concern for a spouse or pets a shining example of empathy? If Frank had died, Rand would be in the apartment all alone. Of course she’s going to care about his welfare – it was to her benefit to do so.

    And she didn’t have too much empathy for him when she asked him to make himself scarce so she could have regular sexytime with Nathaniel Branden. And when Branden was about to leave her she would go on and on, analyzing Branden’s feelings for her him in front of Frank. Of course he was sliding into dementia at this point, but she seems not to have understood that.

    …she did not acknowledge his mental deterioration, just as she had never really acknowledged the fact of his separate mental life. When conversation was still within his power, he had sometimes told Eloise, the housekeeper, or one of Rand’s secretaries how much he missed the open spaces and greenery of the San Fernando Valley. “But he hated California.” Rand would say. “He loves New York.” She nagged at him constantly, to onlookers’ distress. “Don’t humor him” she told Barbara Weiss, before the woman resigned. “Make him try to remember.” She insisted that his mental lapses were “psycho-epistemological” and she gave him long grueling lessons in how to think and remember. She assigned him papers on aspects of his mental functioning, which he was entirely unable to write… For months and years Rand went on goading him, out of fear, horror, or perhaps, a cultivated prejudice that what is not rational is not quite human. “He never got kindness from her,” said Weiss.

  • GCT

    Revoking a charter is now considered the use of force on par with physical murder?

  • GCT

    Government cannot magically make production and innovation happen. More like the opposite.

    The opposite, meaning what? That government impedes production and innovation? And, you wrote that while using the internet?

    Shall we take the many dozens of trillions in unfunded liabilities in the U.S. as an example of what welfare statism conveys upon all of our heads?

    Yes, people were very free during the Gilded Age, weren’t they?

  • Ricker

    Agreed. The infallibility is what really made the book lose any appearance of being a social commentary and turned it into a complete work of fiction to me. I still enjoy it, probably one of the few people here who does, but unlike many people who adore the book, I recognize that it doesn’t have a direct transition/translation into our world.

  • Ricker

    I’d like to counter that idea. Rearden’s improved bridge wasn’t from misremembering his idea, it was from observing something, I can’t remember what right now, that made him think about combining a beam and truss (or something like that). The book gives the impression that his initial design was good, but the revamped design was even better.
    To me, that’s not making an error; that’s improving an already good design. For Rearden to have made an error, the first design would have had to contain a fatal flaw, something that would have made it fail.

  • Ricker

    I think Rearden not being able to read people was meant to indicate that the people he needed to read were no longer honorable, hard-working people. It was meant to illustrate that Rearden was dealing with people who held different values than his own, values which Rand considered despicable and tried to portray as such. Rearden also seems to be the main piece of clay of the work, a character who starts out with flaws, and the book details his realization of the principles Rand holds dear. The supporting characters, particularly d’Anconia, seem to be Rand’s idea of the ubermensch, enlightened individuals able to do anything because they believe only in man’s ability. (Side commentary: I find it amusing how many religious conservatives embrace Atlas Shrugged without realizing the implications it has on their religion.)

    As far as Rearden’s bridge, I don’t view that as a mistake. I posted above that the bridge was an improvement: Rearden had a good initial design, but then realized a way to make it even better. I don’t recall that he misremembered his bridge design; his revelation was sparked by an observation of something, but I can’t remember what right now.

  • Ricker

    What additional books/resources would you recommend reading to get a better understanding of Rand? I’ve never heard the view of Rand that you detail here, so I’d be interested in reading what you know/referenced.
    The reason I’m reading Atlast Shrugged is to had first hand knowledge of what it said. I’d enjoyed Adam’s commentary, but realized that is was a snapshot of the whole book. I’ve had friends reference reading reviews or reference the book without having read it, so I was wanting to be more informed as I developed my opinion on it.

  • Ricker

    The problem with capitalism is that research/work is not conducted unless there is a suitable ROI. This is best illustrated by the hundreds of people who suffer from a rare disease, yet no big Phar company bothers to research a cure/treatment for the condition because there aren’t enough patients to make the research profitable.

    The problem with government research is it is inefficient. Government funded research is usually for altruistic purposes for to further human understanding of something. (I’m thinking directly of the NIH right now) I used to work in a retrovirus research lab which had some NIH funding, and towards the end of each financial period, I remember ordering and stockpiling various necessary equipment in order to exhaust the grant money. It didn’t matter if we needed the new centrifudge, we just had extra NIH money that we had to use up. The ACA website is another good example, in my mind. I think had an insurance company been making the website, there would have been far, far fewer problems with it than we’re seeing now.

    My basic point, though, is that you cannot rely solely on one method or the other for innovation, there needs to be balance.

  • Science Avenger

    “can somebody explain to me what the Objectivist take on, say, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire would be?”

    Well, I used to be a True Objectivist, perhaps I’ll do. It’s the standard libertarian response to any workplace problems – if you don’t like the conditions, go work elsewhere. To their way of thinking, perhaps some companies will lure away workers by advertising that they won’t let such a thing happen. That view of course, is pure rot, assuming, among many errors, a completely fluid workforce (how many minimum wage employees can just up and move?), and complete information available on prospective employers.

  • Science Avenger

    Excellent post. It’s also worth noting that marketplaces work best with items frequently purchased and carrying little downside risk, so consumers can get a good sample on which to make future decisions, and not suffer too badly when they make poor ones. Neither of these remotely applies to one’s job (or house, or doctor…). It’s like trying to learn to play poker in a game where “all-in” is the only allowed bet.

  • Science Avenger

    Greenspan was an Objectivist. He has several articles featured in Rand’s “Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal”.

  • Science Avenger

    I think that’s it exactly. For those of us who were smart, talented, but socially awkward, Rearden’s little soliliquys on not understanding the rules everyone else was playing by were speaking to us.

  • Science Avenger

    I think it comes from a rebellion against the notion that everything around them didn’t pop out of the ether, but had to be constructed or discovered by people who got educated and learned a trade, and that was also incumbent upon our alienated teens to do the same. They want to be accepted for who they are (the chant of losers IMO), and not have to put any more effort into understanding anything except a few moments of idle thinking. Rand’s protagonists feed right into that mindset

  • Science Avenger

    They THINK they don’t face risks. Nothing turns around a conservative faster than losing their job and having to face the system for real instead of the fantasy version in their heads.

  • Science Avenger

    You can see this effect in Governors. Notice how when GOP governors have to deal with a problem for real, instead of in the abstract, they tend to get much more reasonable: W Bush on immigration, Christie on FEMA, etc.

  • Science Avenger

    ” Privileged types don’t give a shit about the lives of the people whose thankless labor makes their privilege possible, and often take great pride in pissing and shitting on them as much as they can. I think part of the hatred is insecurity, the realization that had your parents not been who they were or had you been born elsewhere or missed out on some big breaks, you would be the prole.”

    I think it’s the opposite: talented Objectivists to whom everything comes easily think that their lives are great because they worked hard, and everyone else’s can be as well if they’d just get off their lazy asses. They are like savants who can’t understand why everyone can’t do what they do. I’m reminded of a commercial with Shaq who says something like “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t live your dream. They told me that and look at me now”. I thought “Sure, make me 7 feet tall and I can star in the NBA too!”.

  • fuguewriter

    Observe Rand’s extremely careful construction (as in the non-rape “rape” scene in “The Fountainhead”): it is a charter that was not even necessary, i.e., the legislator was corrupt and was using the physical force of the State against an innocent person. Consider what would have happened had Nat Taggart disregarded the revocation of the charter: personnel prepared to use deadly force, if resisted, would have showed up. That’s the dirty secret of the regulatory/interventionist State: it relies upon murderous force.

    Also, note exactly what Rand wrote: “It was said …”

    Thus, it was semi-legendary – along the lines of the legends about John Galt.

  • Nancy McClernan

    And even more examples of Rand’s extreme lack of empathy have been given. I’d say you’re the one with the cult-like bias.

  • fuguewriter

    Government is so productive, it pays taxes to corporations and rich people.

    People were so very free in 1300, 1500, 1700 – and lived much longer than with all that nasty Industrial Revolution stuff.

  • fuguewriter

    The balance is in my favor, especially with your resistance to picking up a book that contains evidence. As for the cult, I’m no Objectivist. You, however, are a charter member of Misayndryism.

    Now, for a policy change, if you wish to say anything of substance, I’ll respond. Otherwise, carry on.

  • Science Avenger

    I suspect your friend’s conclusion suffers from his view of drug use as binary. Some friends of mine and I decided to test the “drugs make you more creative/insightful” premise some years ago. We’d indulge our tastes, take note of our level of use, record our conversations, and then the next day evaluate them while sober. We did this for a month or so, experimenting with various doses. The results were most interesting.

    We found that when our level of intoxication was fairly low, we did indeed come up with some impressive insights that were out of the norm of our conversations. However, as the dosages got higher (heh), we found our recorded selves overly impressed with stare-at-the-shoe gibberish: “One…is always one man….it’s amazing”.

    This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock. Pick any musical artist you like who had a heavy drug era and a sober era (The Beatles, Aerosmith, etc.). Which do you prefer? For me its the drug era every time. I’ll take “Walk this way” and “A Day in the Life” over “Dude Looks like a Lady” and “I wanna Hold Your Hand” any day.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Of course I don’t claim that she was never once pleasant in her life, or ever did anything nice. But the unpleasant outweighs the pleasant.

    And your personal anecdotes don’t count much since you can’t even be bothered to give names or any kind of context. I’ve provided references to a web site and books, with named authors and established sources.

    And there is plenty more. And the longer you continue this conversation the more I will pile on the documented appalling aspects of Ayn Rand’s personality.

    Normally I wouldn’t care so much about an author’s personality, but Atlas Shrugged is a pure reflection of that personality, unfiltered by the usual editorial input.

    Objectivism is nothing more than a collection of Ayn Rand’s personal prejudices, wrapped up nicely by Nathaniel Branden and then taken as Gospel by a bunch of right-wingers who don’t like to share, and who like to fancy themselves formidable intellectuals.

    It’s hard not to LOL when dealing with them.

  • TBP100

    I don’t think anyone has posted this yet, but I think it may be the best satire on Atlas Shrugged I have seen. It’s a one-page condensation, very funny and dead on:

    http://www.spudworks.com/article/66/2/

    A taste:

    “Yes Dagny, you silly silly woman, I may seem a slacker to you, but after ten pages of explanation you will know that it is you who slack and it is I who serve a higher cause which will not be explained for another seven hundred pages.

  • Science Avenger

    The link is broken, but you might get inspiration from this little quote from a hilarious one-page version:

    “Yes Dagny, you silly silly woman, I may seem a slacker to you, but after ten pages of explanation you will know that it is you who slack and it is I who serve a higher cause which will not be explained for another seven hundred pages. Remember, I am a d’Anconia which goes without saying that I know what I am doing,” he mocked. He was so perfect at mocking. No man mocked like Francisco. How she wanted to be back in his arms. Were it not for… no! He was a slacker! The very embodiment of slack yet… yet he slacked with purpose. Even that was perfect. No man slacked like Francisco.”

  • Nancy McClernan

    You’re making fact-claims that are generally at variance with fact

    Name one.

    And I’m sorry, but some anonymous person making unverifiable claims about whom he/she has spoken to is pretty much a waste of time as far as this discussion goes.

  • Science Avenger

    Have Midas Mulligan get sick and die. He’s old and overweight, it’d be plausible. It’d also be fun to see the Gulchians survive without having the aid of someone else’s money.

  • fuguewriter

    And yet, you’re unable to pick up one book: “100 Voices.” : )

  • fuguewriter

    The claim she screamed, etc. at people in public.

    She didn’t. Not once.

    Not even the Brandens claim that.

    So, yeah. You’re kind of in-credible.

  • Nancy McClernan

    He is pointing out the “evil” of the times by saying that he can’t negotiate in the usual way that humans negotiate.

    Since Atlas Shrugged is a pure expression of the personality of Ayn Rand, anything that Ayn Rand doesn’t like, or fears, or can’t relate to is designated “evil.”

    And so even the most standard business practice, face-to-face negotiations, performed everywhere from a Moroccan souk to a Manhattan boardroom is declared to be “evil” by Rand. And therefore, in her twisted world, something that real businessmen don’t do, but only government officials do.

  • Nancy McClernan

    But the worrying about Lillian taking his money is irrelevant because he doesn’t even think about cheating on her for eight years.

    Clearly Rearden has no moral issue with cheating on her, and his cheating with Dagny was not a declaration that he intended to divorce her, since the affair with Dagny was a big secret, which Lillian eventually discovered. He wasn’t going to tell her.

    So the issue is still, why didn’t Rearden sneak around much sooner than eight years into the marriage.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Really? Did you decide to rewrite the book now? Try reading this passage again, and then tell me where it says that the government official offering the loan used a gun to try to force Nat Taggart to take the loan.

    It was said that Nat Taggart had staked his life on his railroad many times: but once, he staked more than his life. Desperate for funds, with the construction of his line suspended, he threw down three flights of stairs a distinguished gentleman who offered him a loan from the government. Then he pledged his wife as security for a loan from a millionaire who hated him and admired her beauty. He repaid the loan on time and did not have to surrender his pledge. The deal had been made with his wife’s consent…

    Then there’s the concept of offering your wife up to a life of sexual slavery because you prefer sexual slavery to accepting a government loan. Bat shit crazy – heard of it?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Dagny and d’Anconia were born into their positions. It doesn’t matter whether they were workaholics.

    Of course John Galt can do anything, like destroy the United States in his spare time.

  • Nancy McClernan

    She was an anonymous bus passenger and instead of remaining one, she couldn’t resist letting the other passenger know who she was. So the word “forced” is appropriate, although you decided to try to spin it as “poor unwilling bus passenger.”

    The evidence that she was preening is obvious – this is Rand’s own account and she is clearly thrilled that once she made the passenger aware of her identity, she was asked for autographs. And please note, she says nothing about how she got into interesting discussions of philosophical topics etc. The only reason given for why this was her best bus ride ever was because she was recognized (after Rand made the effort to be recognized) and asked for autographs.

    You are simply incapable of admitting that Ayn Rand could have ever preened, even once. And so you claim I’m tossing out evidence. You just cannot accept the evidence provided.

  • Science Avenger

    The government doesn’t make production and innovation happen by magic. They do it by transferring the necessary funds to areas that can make use of them. How do you think we got to the moon? Built the interstate highway system? Won WWII?

    Oh, and hate to go all wonky on you, but if you are referring to Social Security, the US does not have dozens of trillions of unfunded liabilities, because its a pay-as-you go system, not a pension plan.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Yes “crony businessmen” are defined as evil, but bribing or threatening local officials in order to allow a Taggart Train to run through residential districts at 100 miles an hour is good and right and virtuous. Because Ayn Rand got a thrill out of fast trains, so why should those moochers and their moocher children get in the way of her train with their stupid zoning laws? No doubt the children in those communities were mean and ugly like eight-year-old Millie Bush, and so deserved to be mowed down. The most important thing is that Dagny’s train gets to go fast, not the lives of characters who hold insufficiently Objectivist principles.

  • Nancy McClernan

    So are you then refuting Nathaniel Branden when he wrote in his memoir “My Years with Ayn Rand” pp 226 – 227

    There were implicit premises in our world to which everyone in our circle subscribed. We transmitted these to our students at NBI. These were the premises:
    - Ayn Rand is the greatest human being who has ever lived.
    - Atlas Shrugged is the greatest human achievement in the history of the world.
    - Ayn Rand, by virtue of her philosophical genius, is the supreme arbiter in any issue pertaining to what is rational, moral, or appropriate to man’s life on earth.
    - Once one is acquainted with Ayn Rand and her work, the measure of one’s virtue is intrinsically tied to the position that one takes regarding her and her work.
    - No one who does not admire what Ayn Rand admires and condemn what Ayn Rand condemns can be a good Objectivist. No one who disagrees with Ayn Rand on any fundamental issue can be a fully consistent individualist.
    - Because Ayn Rand has designated Nathaniel Branden as her “intellectual heir” and has repeatedly proclaimed him to be an ideal exponent of her philosophy, he is to be accorded only marginally less reverence than Ayn Rand herself.
    - It is best not to say most of these things explicitely (excepting, perhaps, the first two items). One must always maintain that one arrives at one’s beliefs solely by reason alone.

    Perhaps we were not a cult in the literal, dictionary sense of the word, but there was certainly a cultish aspect to our worlds (in the same way that one might speak, in the early years of psychoanalysis, of “the cult of Sigmund Freud” or “the cult of Wilhelm Reich”), We were a group organized around a charismatic leader. Our members judged one another’s character chiefly by loyalty to that leader and to her ideas.

    Ayn did not create this atmosphere on her own. We all actively contributed. In every respect, I was a full and willing partner to whom the rightness of what we were doing felt close to self-evident. Our entire group fed Ayn’s exalted view of herself, and no one did so more fervently than I…

  • Nancy McClernan

    And here you can find the points of view of people who were once part of Rand’s inner circle – they despised Branden, but portray Rand in exactly the same way.

    With her flowing cape, intense eyes, and long cigarette holder, Rand was the very picture of eccentricity; she sometimes wore a tricornered hat, and at one point carried a gold-knobbed cane. Her thick Russian accent added to the exoticism. It is a measure of Rand’s powerful personality – and the real key to understanding the Rand cult – that, after a while, many of her leading followers began to speak with a noticeable accent, although each and every one of them had been born in North America.

    This Russification process was especially pronounced in Nathaniel Branden, her leading disciple. Branden delivered his lectures on the “Basic Principles of Objectivism” in a sonorous singsong voice with a very definite Slavic undertone. Pompous, dogmatic, and utterly self-infatuated, Branden was the second-in-command and chief enforcer of a cult that demanded total obedience and agreement on every conceivable subject – in the name of individualism. Any deviation from the Randian line – and they had a line on everything – was taken as evidence of “bad premises,” and grounds for expulsion from the inner circle.

    Murray’s own experience with the Randians was a case in point. In the late 50s, Murray and a group of his libertarian friends in New York City became interested in the burgeoning Objectivist movement, which had taken off as a result of the success of Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged.

    Murray wrote Rand a letter complimenting her on the novel, and soon joint meetings of the Randian “Senior Collective” and Rothbard’s Circle Bastiat were being held. As advocates of laissez-faire capitalism, avowedly committed to the supremacy of reason, it seemed as if the Randians would be valuable allies.

    But the Randians did not understand the concept of “allies”: in their universe, you either agreed with all of their positions, or else you were consigned to the Outer Darkness. (Curiously, on the level of macro-politics, the Randians were grossly opportunistic.)

    The Randian ideology was not so much an integrated philosophical system as a mythos, based as it was on Rand’s novels. Unfortunately, as she got older, she imagined herself to be a philosopher, and gave up fiction writing to become the leader of a movement.

    In her nonfiction tirades, Rand quotes mainly from her own works; this was due not only to her inflated self-estimate, but also to a colossal ignorance. She read almost nothing but detective novels, and her followers, usually considerably younger, were even worse. Although her philosophy of rational self-interest was an eccentric modern variation on a much older philosophical tradition, the only precedent she acknowledged was Aristotle.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/1970/01/murray-n-rothbard/an-evening-in-ayn-rands-livingroom/

  • Nancy McClernan

    Let’s have a list of the “many dozens of trillions in unfunded liabilities” so we know exactly what you are talking about.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Government makes production and innovation happen. There’s nothing magic about it. Unless you think the Internet is magic. Do you?

  • Nancy McClernan

    I have no resistance to picking up any book. It’s a matter of having the time over having the inclination. I certainly want to know as much about Rand as possible as I am researching her as a character for a play I am writing.

    I’m sorry you’re not an Objectivist. I thought we finally had a True Objectivist we could play with here.

    You, however, are a charter member of Misayndryism.

    What? Where did that come from?

    I’ve said plenty of substance – it’s just too painful for you to read any criticisms of Ayn Rand and so you redefine it as insubstantial.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Not immediately. But it was one of the sources for the biography Ayn Rand and the World She Made, so I guess I’ve actually seen some of the content of that book.

    For example, Rand presents the stock market rather bizarrely in Atlas Shrugged – it appears she didn’t fully understand how it worked. And that’s because she didn’t invest herself. In 100 Voices it is revealed on p 276:

    An ex-NBI student named Kathryn Eickhoff, a vice-president of Greenspan’s former Wall Street consulting firm, Townsend-Greenspan, paid regular visits to counsel her about her finances. Eichoff tried to disguise her dismay when Rand revealed that all her money was in a savings bank across the street from the apartment; the champion of capitalism had no time to research stocks and disapproved of government savings bonds, she told Eickhoff, who eventually persuaded her to invest her savings in money-market funds.

    I’m sure there are many more fascinating tidbits like that, which Heller included throughout the biography from 100 Voices, but of course I’m interested in seeing more in 100 Voices. Who knows what items Heller left out.

  • Nancy McClernan

    The claim she screamed, etc. at people in public.
    She didn’t. Not once.
    Not even the Brandens claim that.

    There are none so certain as the ignorant:

    But if she did not believe the question to be valid and intelligent, she was scathing in her denunciation; her anger, she would insist, was rationally justified moral indignation. A young man asked: “How can you expect everyone to be rational and to arrive at correct philosophical conclusions, if they have not been taught rationality and have not been exposed to a philosophy of reason? ” Ayn exploded. “I did it myself!” she shouted. “No one taught me how to think! Anyone can, who chooses to.”

    The Passion of Ayn Rand, by Barbara Branden, p 329.

    Now do you want to walk back your claim? Or would you like to quibble over the difference between “scream” and “shout”?

  • Nancy McClernan

    So which is it – all a legend, or Nat Taggart killed a man?

    And have you yet bothered to explain why Nat Taggart assaulted a government official offering him a loan? Or are we to believe this was also just a legend – a glorious legend that made Dagny so adore her ancestor.

  • GCT

    No one who disagrees with Ayn Rand on any fundamental issue can be a fully consistent individualist.

    LOL. I give that quite a few Picards.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Love it. There really is something about the portentous humorlessness of Atlas Shrugged that lends itself to exquisite hilarity.

  • GCT

    A) Not all government research is inefficient.
    B) Why are you responding to me? I was simply pointing out the irony of claiming government cannot make production and innovation happen while typing that on a webpage.
    C) The only people here claiming that we need to rely on one method or the other are the Randroids.

  • GCT

    Government is so productive, it pays taxes to corporations and rich people.

    What are you even talking about here? You’ve made a ridiculous claim about government’s role in innovation and production while commenting on a blog…on the internet…and you don’t see the problem?

    People were so very free in 1300, 1500, 1700 – and lived much longer than with all that nasty Industrial Revolution stuff.

    Nice dodge, but immaterial. You haven’t actually answered the objection in any substantial way. Are you seriously contending that no one had any sort of freedom before the Industrial Revolution and that freedom has only decreased as government has intruded? Why are you not living in Somalia?

  • fuguewriter

    What does the text say, again? “It was said…”

  • fuguewriter

    Are you bothering to bother?

  • fuguewriter

    Google is your friend.

  • fuguewriter

    No inclination, yet time to type a great deal. All done!

  • fuguewriter

    Ah, so you’ve changed things yet again.A single anecdote becomes Ayn Rand’s characteristic behavior, while you ignore my primary-material citations (like recorded public appearances showing no screaming – ever). Now we’re really all done. : )

  • Nancy McClernan

    He was a member of Rand’s “Collective” but had doubts early on, according to his autobiography. And note that true believers equate Greenspan with Atlas Shrugged’s Robert Stadler – which is not a good thing. Rand punishes Stadler for his betrayal of Objectivism by having him melted by a death-ray at the end of Atlas Shrugged.

    One contradiction I found particularly enlightening. According to Objectivist precepts, taxation was immoral because it allowed for government appropriation of private property by force. Yet if taxation was wrong, how could you reliably finance the essential functions of government, including the protection of individual rights through police power? The Randian answer, that those who rationally saw the need for government would contribute voluntarily was inadequate. People have free will; suppose they refused?

    I still found the broader philosophy of unfettered market competition compelling, as I do to this day, but I reluctantly began to realize that if there were qualifications to my intellectual edifice, I couldn’t argue that others should readily accept it. By the time I joined Richard Nixon’s campaign for the presidency in 1968, I had long since decided to engage in efforts to advance free-market capitalism as an insider, rather than a critical pamphleteer. When I agreed to accept the nomination as chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, I knew I would have to pledge to uphold not only the Constitution but also the laws of the land, many of which I thought were wrong. The existence of a democratic society governed by the rule of law implies a lack of unanimity on almost every aspect of the public agenda. Compromise on public issues is the price of civilization, not an abrogation of principle.

  • arensb

    For what it’s worth, I found Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” to be a good antidote to libertarianism, or at least to laissez-faire capitalism.

  • Science Avenger

    Funny, having been in similar situations, I don’t see how what she did could be conceived as “being playful”. It seemed like an attention-grab, no more, no less. My idea of being playful was to chat with the person about the work without revealing I was the author. The ones I found most amusing were those where they didn’t realize they were talking to the author. But then I lack Rand’s sense of self-importance.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I think the key is that the person relaying Rand’s anecdote, Mary Ann Sures, one of Rand’s most loyal late-period sycophants introduces the anecdote by saying “Now, here’s the charming, playful aspect of Ayn Rand.” And because Mary Ann Sures spins it that way, fuguewriter thinks we should just accept Mary Ann Sures’ view. It’s the view promoted by the Ayn Rand Institute, that Ayn Rand Never Preened.

    I recommend anybody interested in the ARI’s attempts to rehabilitate Ayn Rand’s reputation to take a look at the Sures’ web site. This is my absolute favorite part:

    Mary Ann

    But there was something else about Ayn Rand that was different from anyone I had ever met before. I felt myself responding to this “something,” but I didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t until after a few more meetings with her that I could name it.

    ARI

    What was that?

    Mary Ann

    She had certainty. This is what really attracted me emotionally to her that night. She was the first person I had ever met who projected it—she projected that what she knew was true, and that she was sure of it.

    What she was that night was the way she always was: she never doubted herself and her capacity to understand. It’s not that she had an encyclopedic mind that knew everything—although she knew more about things than most people did. The point is that she didn’t live in a state of chronic doubt. She didn’t constantly question the rightness of her ideas. She didn’t hesitate and flounder. She spoke with conviction. What she knew, she knew. This was a strong element in her personality.

    http://facetsofaynrand.com/book/chap1-meeting_ayn_rand.html

    On the next page, perhaps due to how rigid Rand sounds in Sures’ description, the ARI follows up:

    ARI

    Mary Ann, getting back to your positive response to her certainty. Did anyone ever accuse you of being attracted to her because you wanted an authority figure in your life?

    Mary Ann

    Yes, I used to hear that frequently—but I haven’t heard it for many years. It didn’t take me long to learn that although it was said as a criticism of me, the real target was her philosophy and her certainty that her philosophy was right.

    ARI

    Could you elaborate on this point?

    Mary Ann

    Some critics have tried to turn her certainty into a desire on her part to be an authority in the bad sense, and they accuse her of being dogmatic, of demanding unquestioning agreement and blind loyalty. They have tried, but none successfully, to make her into the leader of a cult, and followers of her philosophy into cultists who accept without thinking everything she says. This is a most unjust accusation; it’s really perverse. Unquestioning agreement is precisely what Ayn Rand did not want. She wanted you to think and act independently, not to accept conclusions because she said so, but because you reached them by using your mind in an independent and firsthand manner. She was adamant about it: your conclusions should result from your observations of reality and your thinking, not hers. Now, she could help you along in that process, and, as we all know, she did. But she never wanted you to substitute her mind for yours.

    http://facetsofaynrand.com/book/chap1-ayn_rand_certainty.html

    It should not be forgotten that the Ayn Rand Institute was established by Rand’s “intellectual heir” (after the Brandens were purged because Nathaniel wouldn’t bang Rand again and Barbara was a little too supportive of Nathaniel) Leonard Peikoff (Barbara Branden’s cousin). He’s the one who makes money whenever Rand’s work sells. He has all the financial incentive in the world to promote Rand-worship.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand_Institute

  • Nancy McClernan

    My favorite parody so far is this mashup of Atlas Shrugged and Lord of the Rings:

    http://slacktory.com/2012/06/ayn-rands-the-lord-of-the-rings/

    “Is it ever proper to help another man? No; and also give me my Ring back. I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man because I want my Ring back… I have many, many more thoughts on this subject. In fact I have 33,300 more words worth of thoughts on the subject. Using this magical palantír, you, Peregrin Took, son of Paladin Took, may see these words now.”

  • smrnda

    I wonder how Samuel Beckett would have handled the situation of seeing someone reading his book…

  • smrnda

    Thank you for beating me to that.

    On the ‘we don’t want mindless obedience’ this reminds me of how religious say ‘we don’t want blind faith’ and then encourage everybody to parrot the same bad apologetic arguments over and over again.

  • smrnda

    I wonder how well Rand would have done on a general knowledge test, or maybe some tests in mathematics and basic science? Not that you need to be a scientific genius to write a book in which characters use science or to write science fiction, but one would hope to at least get the basics.

  • smrnda

    That’s a claim you can make in a work of fiction provided its totally unrealistic, but the idea that anyone born into privilege *actually did it entirely on merit* is laughable.

    On Rearden and Galt, Rand *says* they came from the working classes, but with Rearden, we get him working in a coal mine at 13 and then being his own boss. So.. what happened in between? What remotely plausible series of events took place between those two spots? She doesn’t even bother to fill us in on implausible events that took us form the mine to where we see Rearden later. The reason she doesn’t fill in the details is that these type of events don’t happen.

    If you’re going to say that your books tell people either how the world is or how the world should be, lack of realism is enough to make the book useless for that topic. Rand is writing propaganda. The events are totally implausible. Rand doesn’t understand how any industry actually works and rather than doing some research and finding out, she just writes out her ass.

  • smrnda

    You mean when white people arrived on the continent of North America? You mean when corporations hire gunmen to kill labor activists?

  • smrnda

    Yes, because ‘work for me or starve, under whatever conditions I want!’ is totally not coercive. Women having to put up with sexual harassment at work isn’t coercive since the Magic Frictionless Market *always* has another job.

    If the regulatory government is relying on force, then the people who it uses force against, such as employers, are an oppressor class who should have their power limited by force. Economic power is power, and political power is what the mass of people have to use against it. If an employer seeks to mistreat a worker by violating the law, by all means, force should be used. I have no problem with that.

    In the end, any functioning government HAS to rely on force in the end because nothing else can establish the rule of law when people are intent on breaking it. Our government actually makes the type of offenses rich people are likely to commit shielded by the legal fiction of ‘the corporation’ and subject to fines rather than imprisonment, so that violations of the law can be just another cost of doing business. But yes, every government WILL eventually use force against people who break laws.

    Nobody will ever agree 100% to every single law, and at least someone is going to break one, so eventually, force is going to get used or there at least has to be some provision to use force. If it isn’t the government, then it’s just force in private hands which effectively just creates little itty bitty governments of whoever can stockpile enough guns to run a territory.

  • smrnda

    I’m sorry, but an admirer and personal devotee isn’t really a person I can take as a credible source when others exist.

  • smrnda

    That’s not a valid argument. If we find evidence that a man is a murderer, the lack of any murderous intentions or actions in his many public appearances doesn’t negate that, it just means that most of the time he wasn’t engaging in murder. It’s really just anecdotes of fans of Rand against other anecdotes.

  • smrnda

    ‘I think one of her main strengths *and* limitations is that she was
    operating from a highly specific system, and her mind moved very, very
    fast.’

    I can’t think of these as strengths at all. A mind moving fast is a mind making errors.

  • Nancy McClernan

    You claimed she never did it – “not once.”

    And although there is only a single anecdote offered, it’s clear from the quote that Branden was referring to a pattern of behavior, and only chose to present one example.

    Damn right we’re done – like your hero Ayn Rand you are incapable of admitting error and incapable of admitting that Dear Leader was capable of bad behavior. You’re a complete Randroid zombie.

  • smrnda

    You mean that the children born to college professors and the children born to coal miners have are not part of distinct, identifiable classes? That the first do not enjoy distinct advantages over the latter?

    Class mobility in the US is extremely low. Class mobility in European nations with more comprehensive welfare states, more funding for education, more regulations is higher, the standard of living is higher, crime is lower. Allow me to laugh a bit here. You clearly have not seen enough of the world.

    Our unfunded liabilities exist because of our shift of the tax burden away from people who make money through passive ownership onto those who work. People with lots of money use their money to buy the control of assets, which increases their share of ownership. To make money, the workers get squeezed. Consumer spending declines because the less money a person makes the more likely they are to spend it because costs of living are regressive.

    The internet on which we communicate is the result of government R and D. Quite a lot of R and D is funded by the government.

  • smrnda

    People were not free in 1300. They were not free in 1700. There existed serfdom, and actual chattel slavery. Women were legally property in some of those years in many places. That’s about the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

    I’d like government to stop *giving my tax money* to people who already have so much money.

  • Nancy McClernan

    How bizarre that you obsess over the fact that I haven’t read one book about Rand, immediately, on your say-so. .

    And as I made clear on another comment, I’m acquainted with quite a bit of the content of 100 Voices because it’s a source for the Heller biography. And I quoted an excerpt Heller found in 100 Voices.

  • smrnda

    True. On a local level, you’re arguing actual on the ground policy, not ideological purity.

  • Nancy McClernan

    So why don’t you use it before making claims, instead of trying to get others to do your work, you parasite.

  • smrnda

    This might be a difference in terms of area – two people I knew of the ‘drugs just get you to make crap’ opinion were a painter and then someone in film school; music may be different. One of my favorite books is Naked Lunch, written while William S Burroughs was doing heroin (he states he did not remember writing the book in its introduction.) I suspect the impact of drugs on creativity is not uniform. My friend was probably encountering people who were using the pretense of being artists to excuse drug use, rather than artists looking to do drugs. Rand seems to remind me of that, mostly since outside of her descriptions of heavy industry, her work is so clunky and artless.

    My own experiences were that drugs were mostly about coping with stress, so they ‘enhanced performance’ only in the sense of returning it to baseline. I wonder what the effect of alcohol on writing code is, but I don’t have a good means of quantifying code quality.

  • J-D

    If you start with axioms that seem solid, and you proceed through a chain of reasoning that seems solid, and you arrive at a conclusion which cannot be reconciled with the evidence, then the rational response is to check your work. Maybe there’s something wrong with your axioms, or maybe you made a mistake in your reasoning. If you decide instead to discard the notion of checking the evidence as an irrelevancy, then whatever you’re committed to it’s not rationality.

  • smrnda

    My perceptions may be different because pretty much everything about how my life has turned out can be entirely explained in terms of privilege. The reason I did well on a few tests early on that more or less helped me to get ahead was that I’d been exposed to a lot of content at a young age that most people won’t get until much later. My first exposure to writing software might have been around 8 or so – I was doing things I saw other people in my family do, and I had the good fortune of having someone show me the basics, but how often does an 8 year old kid get that kind of chance? If you have a ton of mathematics books sitting around the house, you get all this information long before everyone else, so you get ahead. Every time I run into someone who is struggling, I can usually look and compare advantages/disadvantages.

  • smrnda

    Econ 101. The free rider problem explains exactly why the ‘voluntary cooperation model’ does not work.

    All said, I loved this line because it is completely true:

    ‘The existence of a democratic society governed by the rule of law
    implies a lack of unanimity on almost every aspect of the public agenda.
    Compromise on public issues is the price of civilization, not an
    abrogation of principle.’

  • Nancy McClernan

    So you don’t know. But we do know that Dagny worships this possibly violence-prone, possibly murderous, possibly wife-sex-slavery pimp. Because that’s what heroes worship.

  • smrnda

    The problem is that because she sees no value in anything but work, the only place for the ‘lower classes’ in her worldview are as people who exist only to obey the will of their employers. That’s all the non-higher up characters do in Atlas Shrugged. Nobody seems to have relationships outside of with other Movers and Shakers, nobody has hobbies, she can’t even write about a relationship with kids in any of her books ever. The notion that a bricklayer wants to go fishing, spend time with his kids and that these are just as legitimate of goals as ‘build buildings’ is incompatible with her philosophy. Therefore, her philosophy pretty much dehumanizes a whole chunk of humanity by virtue of them doing jobs that they don’t like as much as they like recreation.

    There is more to life than for profit work. Regrettably, Rand doesn’t seem to see that.

  • Nancy McClernan

    As we know, Rand thought the Native Americans deserved to have the land taken over by the technologically superior Europeans. They got what they deserved for being such slackers, in her opinion. And obviously Rand believed that labor activists are moochers who deserved the same fate as the passengers on the Taggart Death Train.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Because talking to a true believer like you is talking to a brick wall – right?

  • Nancy McClernan

    I agree with much of what you say, but I have a minor quibble with the last bit. Rand was able to forgo profit when her ego was at stake.

    This is from one of the two recent bios:

    (Editor Hiram) Haydn was ambivalent, at best, about its ethics and politics (of Atlas Shrugged)… he had doubts about the the novel’s “drab” prose style and core ideas… he suggested a number of cuts, including cuts in John Galt’s speech. When Rand refused he appealed to Bennett Cerf… (Cerf went to Rand and said) “Nobody’s going to read that speech. You’ve said it all three or four times before… you’ve got to cut it.” Answering with a comment that became publishing legend, she said, “Would you cut the Bible?” With that, Cerf threw up his hands, but cagily asked her to forfeit seven cents in royalties per copy to pay for the additional paper it would take to print the uncut speech and other long passages… She agreed… Haydn resigned himself to being an “apprentice copy editor” who helped her search for and remove words within a paragraph that rhymed “an obsession with her.”

  • Nancy McClernan

    And the rape scene is rape in The Fountainhead from Roark’s perspective. He doesn’t know that Dominique secretly wishes to be raped, since he can’t read her mind.

  • J-D

    It
    is true (as that source points out) that government regulation cannot guarantee
    absolute safety (and neither can union activity), because nothing can guarantee
    absolute safety.

    And it’s also true (as that source points out) that business owners do have
    some incentive to guard against risks to safety, and that it is within their
    power to do so to some extent.

    However, given that it is within the power of business owners to guard against
    risks to safety, to some extent, when they have incentive to do so, then it
    follows that it is at least possible that government regulation (and/or union
    activity) will increase the incentive for business owners to reduce safety
    risks, to a greater extent than they otherwise would, even if not to nil.

    Note that the source refers to the legal liabilities that Triangle was exposed
    to as a result of the fire as incentive to guard against such risks. But legal
    liabilities derive from government regulation. The extent of a business owner’s
    legal liabilities, and hence the extent of an incentive to guard against risks
    to safety, depends on the structure of government regulation.

    (Sometimes I get the impression that some people forget that all law is government regulation.)

  • J-D

    Just because people move between categories doesn’t mean the categories aren’t real. People move from the category of ‘young’ to the category of ‘old’, from the category of ‘rich’ to the category of ‘poor’, from the category of ‘poor’ to the category of ‘rich’, from the category of ‘healthy’ to the category of ‘ill’, from the category of ‘ill’ to the category of ‘healthy’, from the category of ‘employed’ to the category of ‘unemployed’, from the category of ‘unemployed’ to the category of ‘employed, from the category of ‘third-grader’ to the category of ‘fourth-grader’. The fact that people move between these categories does not justify ignoring the differences that exist between the categories.

  • GCT

    Um, the “non-rape “rape” scene”? Seriously? Did she not fight hard enough to get away from him?

    As for:

    it is a charter that was not even necessary, i.e., the legislator was corrupt and was using the physical force of the State against an innocent person.

    How is he innocent? He murdered someone. And, your response to that is that he would have been arrested for violating the law, so he’s justified in murdering others, because police are a use of force? If we went by that rationale, then you may as well murder anyone you want, since if you ever wanted to break a law the police will use force against you, so you may as well preemptively strike. And, there goes your rationale for erecting laws at all. Good job, you’re actually an anarchist.

  • Shockna

    “One account has her going out to dinner with a bunch of people and being
    the only person to notice that one of the people, who had an arm in a
    sling, was unable to put cream in his coffee – so she got it for him,
    and I think either did it herself or brought it to him so he could do it
    – all without a word being said. That’s not an unempathic person or an
    “Aspergian” (quotes because it’s now out of the DSM).”

    That sort of behavior wouldn’t be out of character for someone with Aspergers at all, actually.

    And as for emotion, despite the stereotype, those with Aspergers tend to be prone to extreme emotions; they are merely often unexpressed.

  • Shockna

    The poor were just as free in 1300 as they were in 1870. It wasn’t until labor agitation put an end to the gilded age that the lot of the poor improved.

  • Science Avenger

    “In the end, any functioning government HAS to rely on force in the end because nothing else can establish the rule of law when people are intent on breaking it.”

    Ironically, that was Rand’s view in a nutshell. Her objection to various uses of that force had to do with the reasons for it (subjective whim IHO), rather than a per se objection to government force.

  • Science Avenger

    Pity we can’t see Rand’s reaction to the increasing evidence that the American Indians were not low-tech savages as they’ve been so often depicted, but were in fact fairly advanced civilizations in their own right, and on whom the survival of the “superior” Europeans often depended.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I’m guessing she would not change her mind at all. Here’s her intellectual heirs at the ARI in 2005:

    The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is debating whether the United States should formally apologize to Indians for a “long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies.” This proposal should be rejected.

    Before Europeans arrived, the scattered tribes occupying North America lived in abject poverty, ignorance, and superstition–not due to any racial inferiority, but because that is how all mankind starts out (Europeans included). The transfer of Western civilization to this continent was one of the great cultural gifts in recorded history, affording Indians almost effortless access to centuries of European accomplishments in philosophy, science, technology, and government. As a result, today’s Indians enjoy a capacity for generating health, wealth, and happiness that their Stone Age ancestors could never have conceived.

    From a historical perspective, the proper response to such a gift is not resentment but gratitude. America’s policies toward the Indians were generally benign, aimed at protecting them from undeserved harm while providing significant material support and encouragement to become civilized. When those policies erred, it was usually by treating Indians collectively, as “nations” entitled to permanent occupancy of semi-sovereign reservations. Instead, Indians should have been treated as individuals deserving full and equal American citizenship in exchange for embracing individual rights, including private ownership of land.

    If the United States government were demanding that Indians apologize for the frontier terrorism of their ancestors, as if living members of a particular race could be guilty of their forebears’ misdeeds, the demand would (properly) be rejected as racist. For the same reason, American Indians should refuse to be regarded as a race of helpless victims entitled to a collective apology from their fellow citizens.

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11163&news_iv_ctrl=1223

  • fuguewriter

    So women are now forbidden to enact ravishment scenarios? Understood.

    As for innocence: consider the issue of time-sequence. The revocation occurred before the *legendary* murder.

  • Nancy McClernan

    All the issues on the table and this is what you want to talk about?

    Firstly, “women are now forbidden…” is utterly beside the point. We’re talking about a novel. A novel in which, however much Dominique may have wanted to be raped (apparently rape is too indelicate a word and you insist on “ravishment”) Howard Roark, in the world of the novel, does not know that, and so as far as he’s concerned he is having sex with her sans consent. Which is rape. Whether or not Dominique wanted it doesn’t matter from his POV – he would have done it no matter what.

    Now it so happened that Ayn Rand got off on being dominated in bed, and so naturally this is what superior heroic women in her novels like too. Because Ayn Rand’s novels are an expression of Ayn Rand’s personal predilections.

    Secondly, since when do you want to quibble about what Nat Taggart may have legendarily done? I thought your view was that it is irrelevant because it’s presented as legend.

  • fuguewriter

    They have eyes, but they read not.

  • Nancy McClernan

    So now you’re paraphrasing the Bible – what would Ayn Rand think?

  • fuguewriter

    “Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism – the inviolate sanctity of man’s soul, and the salvation of one’s soul as one’s first concern and highest goal.” – Ayn Rand, 1945

  • GCT

    So women are now forbidden to enact ravishment scenarios? Understood.

    Where in the book does she consent to being raped before the rape? Where does she consent at all? Where is it communicated to Roark that she consents?

    As for innocence: consider the issue of time-sequence. The revocation occurred before the *legendary* murder.

    If someone does something you don’t like, murder is justified. Understood.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Bonus points for the use of the fuguewriter signature at the end.

  • fuguewriter

    Actions and inner states of consciousness mean nothing. Understood.

    Time sequence and whether something actually happened or not in the fictive universe mean nothing. Understood.

    That’s quite a deep world you’re living in.

  • Nancy McClernan

    The historical Jesus said nothing of the sort. The historical Jesus was a Zionist revolutionary, one of many “Messiahs” who cropped up over the years, whose aim in life was to end Roman rule, and replace it with a kingdom of the Jews.

    All that salvation and soul talk were thrown in there when the Christians wanted to make their new religion palatable to the Romans.

    But I’m sure Ayn Rand was as ignorant of that as she was of the actual structure and meaning of the Prometheus myth or how the stock market works.

    And her devoted followers imitate her in this, as in so many other ways.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Reduced to communicating in vague inscrutabilities.
    Understood.

    Too cowardly to actually engage in a specific discussion of specific issues.
    Understood.

    Enjoy Thanksgiving tomorrow, or as the Randians like to think of it: The Day We Celebrate the Bringing of True Civilization To Those Ignorant Savages.

  • fuguewriter

    Non-understanding. Understood.

  • fuguewriter

    You are the most devoted of them all.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I study her. I don’t follow her. You don’t get the difference.
    Understood.

  • Nancy McClernan

    You’re almost there. Another few go-rounds and you’ll have perfected it to simply saying “Understood” after every comment. Thanks for your interesting and useful contributions to the discussion.

  • fuguewriter

    Aye, you’ve been seeking truth from the very beginning, open to learning, seeking to spread accuracy and courtesy.

  • fuguewriter

    You study her … without knowing basic texts. An ubermensch of the mind.

  • GCT

    Actions and inner states of consciousness mean nothing. Understood.

    You’re the one claiming actions don’t count for anything. She hit him. She cried for him to get off. She fought against him. He raped her. Only afterwards did she decide that it was OK. He certainly had no idea.

    Time sequence and whether something actually happened or not in the fictive universe mean nothing. Understood.

    What are you trying to say? What does the time sequence have to do with this? And, when speaking of this particular fictive universe, yes, what happens in that universe matters.

    That’s quite a deep world you’re living in.

    I’ll take this as you giving up and accepting defeat, considering you no longer are even trying to support your arguments.

  • fuguewriter

    The Roark-Dominique scene in “The Fountainhead” is constructed with extreme care – like most of Rand’s set tableaux. A simple textual read show that this was not rape. You make a flat-out contrafactual claim – “She cried for him to get off.” Please show where in the text this occurs.

    What the text actually says is: “She fought like an animal. But she made no sound. She did not call for help.” Remember that there was at least one attendant in the house and that the house had a telephone and that for no length of time was Dominique’s mouth covered.

    Dominique wanted it. Roark knew it, and he did what they both wanted.

    And that Dominique later says, in interior monologue, that she was raped bya red-headed hoodlum from the quarry in no way affects any of this: Roark was no more a hoodlum than a rapist, and she knew this full well from their dialogue over the scratched/broken marble that he was an intelligent, educated man. Dominique had the female equivalent of the Madonna/whore complex.

    The scene is brilliantly constructed to push consent exactly to the edge – and that’s just how two such people, given the rest of their character-structures, would behave. It’s a pretty epic early breakthrough of consensual kink in literature.

    As for the rest, you’re misreading sarcasm. I don’t take the person I was writing to seriously, because she has no interest in facts that go against her thesis. There’s nothing to “win” here because there’s no neutral rules and rule-abjudicator.

  • Nancy McClernan

    At last you have truly understood, Grasshopper.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Enough of Ayn Rand revisionist bullshit. Here is what is says:

    She did not hear the sound of steps in the garden. She heard them only when they rose up the stairs to the terrace. She sat up, frowning. She looked at the French windows.

    He came in. He wore his work clothes, the dirty shirt with rolled sleeves, the trousers smeared with stone dust. He stood looking at her. There was no laughing understanding in his face. His face was drawn, austere in cruelty, ascetic in passion, the cheeks sunken, the lips pulled down, set tight. She jumped to her feet, she stood, her arms thrown back, her fingers spread apart. He didn’t move. She saw the vein of his neck rise, beating, and fall down again.

    Then he walked to her. He held her as if his flesh had cut through hers and she felt the bones of his arms on the bones of her ribs, her legs jerked tight against his, his mouth on hers.

    She did not know whether the jolt of terror shook her first and she thrust her elbows at his throat, twisting her body to escape, or whether she lay still in his arms, in the first instant, in the shock of feeling his skin against hers, the thing she had thought about, had expected, had never known to be like this, could not have known, because this was not part of living, but a thing one could not bear longer than a second.

    She tried to tear herself away from him. The effort broke against his arms that had not felt it. Her fists beat against his shoulders, against his face. He moved one hand, took her two wrists, pinned them behind her, under his arm, wrenching her shoulder blades. She twisted her head back. She felt his lips on her breast. She tore herself free.

    She fell back against the dressing table, she stood crouching, her hands clasping the edge behind her, her eyes wide, colorless, shapeless in terror. He was laughing. There was the movement of laughter on his face, but no sound. Perhaps he had released her intentionally. He stood, his legs apart, his arms hanging at his sides, letting her be more sharply aware of his body across the space between them than she had been in his arms. She looked at the door behind him, he saw the first hint of movement, no more than a thought of leaping toward that door. He extended his arm, not touching her, and she fell back. Her shoulders moved faintly, rising. He took step forward and her shoulders fell. She huddled lower, closer to the table. He let her wait. Then he approached. He lifted her without effort. She let her teeth sink into his hand and felt blood on the tip of her tongue. He pulled her head back and he forced her mouth open against his.

    She fought like an animal. But she made no sounds. She did not call for help. She heard the echoes of her blows in a gasp of his breath, and she knew that it was a gasp of pleasure. She reached for the lamp on the dressing table. He knocked the lamp out of her hand. The crystal burst to pieces in the darkness.

    He had thrown her down on the bed and she felt the blood beating in her throat, in her eyes, the hatred, the helpless terror in her blood. She felt the hatred and his hands; his hands moving over her body, the hands that broke granite. She fought in a last convulsion. Then the sudden pain shot up, throughout her body, to her throat, and she screamed. Then she lay still.

    It was an act that could be performed in tenderness as a seal of love, or in contempt, as a symbol of humiliation and conquest. It could be the act of a lover of the act of a soldier violating an enemy woman. He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement. And this made her lie still and submit. One gesture of tenderness from him – and she would have remained cold, untouched by the thing done to her body. But the act of a master taking shameful, contemptuous possession of her was the kind of rapture she had wanted. Then she felt him asking with the agony of a pleasure unbearable even to him, she knew that she had given that to him, that it came from her, from her body, and she bit his lips and she knew what he had wanted her to know.

    He lay still across the bed, away from her, his head hanging back over the edge. She heard the slow, ending gasps of his breath. She lay on her back, as he had left her, not moving, her mouth open. She felt empty, light and flat.

    She saw him get up. She saw his silhouette against the window. He went out, without a word or a glance at her. She noticed that, but it did not matter. She listened blankly to the sound of his steps moving away in the garden.

    Nowhere is it indicated that Roark knew she wanted it. His knowledge exists only in the delusional minds of Randroids who cannot admit that Ayn Rand was fine with rape, as long as one of her Ubermensch was doing it.

  • fuguewriter

    Because to infer X about a character, a writer must write X explicitly. Preferably in capitals.

    From the author herself: “It was not an actual rape, but a symbolic action which Dominique all but invited. This was the action she wanted and Howard Roark knew it.” – http://books.google.com/books?id=kSHdxgJ1UmQC&pg=PA201&lpg=PA201&dq=it+was+a+symbolic+action+dominique+invited&source=bl&ots=DCAcicACoZ&sig=UItZwAhPr0WLNMc9vaPmRymYPLM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=kyOYUqKQCsXzoATZ94KwBA&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=it%20was%20a%20symbolic%20action%20dominique%20invited&f=false

    Enough with decontextualization.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Furthermore, Nathaniel Branden reports that Rand wanted to be dominated in bed:

    I knew that what she wanted most was not my tenderness but my aggressiveness, my willingness to do anything I felt like doing, without asking and without hesitation – a master, to use her language, exercising his rights over his property…

    …Whatever Ayn’s insecurities, in the bedroom there was no split between the novelist and the woman. She was sensual, passionate, uninhibited, aggressive, submissive, strong, helpless, magnificently greedy. She made it abundantly clear that her most ardent desire was to be reduced to a state of total surrender, and that meant I was free to release my own aggressive energy…

    - Judgment Day – My Years with Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden, pp 162 – 163

  • Nancy McClernan

    Earlier in our relationship, if I devoted a long period of time to Ayn’s pleasure, she might ask, “You’re not being altruistic, are you?” She meant it; she had a horror of the man doing anything in bed that was “unselfish.” I would laugh and assure her of the selfishness of my motives.

    - Judgment Day – My Years with Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden, p 221

  • Nancy McClernan

    By “neutral rules” of course you mean claims about Ayn Rand that have been cleared by those who have a financial stake in Ayn Rand’s reputation – the ARI.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Not only do I know basic texts, unlike you, I’ve actually quoted them here. You can’t be bothered to do the same – instead you make feeble references to videos and a single book, and share personal anecdotes that cannot be checked.

    I present facts that can easily be checked, and because you don’t have the ability to refute them, you whine and moan and lie about me, in spite of the fact that the refutation of your lies are here for anybody to read.

    Have you no shame at all?

  • fuguewriter

    That is the only possible meaning.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Oh and it’s easy enough to find out who you are – Michael R. Brown, Ayn Rand obsessive. So why don’t you stop lying and claiming you are not an Objectivist? You’ve been a member of the “Sense of Life Objectivist” web site for 4 years.

    http://www.solopassion.com/user/2039

    https://twitter.com/fuguewriter/statuses/68132685704478720

  • Guest

    It’s been fascinating to read this thread and watch you retreat further and further into spitting mindless insults as your arguments are repeatedly crushed. Maybe you should follow Rand’s winning strategy of only debating your own strawmen.

  • fuguewriter

    The fascination’s in how actually non-serious the most hard-bitten debaters are – and their failure to see when the other person is no longer taking them seriously. When a claim’s decisively answered and there’s a rapid fluent move onto another issue, or obfuscation, or excuse-making, when there’s no reflection on having gotten something wrong, and no interest in something that goes against one’s thesis – and instead there’s hammering away at a negative agenda – why, that’s just a flower-field of amusement to me. The only crushing going on has been of any pretension of honest inquiry by the brave, hard, bold Internet warriors. : )

  • Nancy McClernan

    Yes, because if Ayn Rand explains what it means after the fact, it makes the representation of rape no longer rape.

    The way Ayn Rand wrote it, it is rape, pure and simple. She is acting as revisionist to her own work. She was known to do that in the way she described her personal relationships too.

    In any case, people reading the book alone can’t know it isn’t really supposed to be rape – they’re supposed to hunt down the author explaining what it really means. The book alone fails to accurately represent what the author intended.

    Although I suppose it’s possible that Ayn Rand was such a bad writer that even though she presented the Fountainhead rape scene in such a way that there is absolutely no indication that Roark knew that Dominique really wanted it, she thought there was something in there.

    Mostly though, I think Rand expects us to be able to read Roark’s mind or her mind.

    It reminds me of the theory of mind test, where people on the autism spectrum are more likely to say that a character in the narrative knows what they know, rather than what the character knows based on the actual story…

    http://www.asperger-advice.com/sally-and-anne.html

  • Nancy McClernan

    But one thing that is crystal clear is Rand’s explanation of what the act meant to Roark:

    He did it as an act of scorn. Not as love, but as defilement.

    Now maybe Roark is just kinky. But with Rand, all traits of her Ubermensch are not just traits – they are the best traits, they are signs of superiority. So in Rand’s mind, the best men look at sex as defilement, and the best women don’t like tenderness, they like to be defiled.

    That’s what her Ubermensch like – because that’s what Ayn Rand herself liked.

  • fuguewriter

    Men, as well as women, are forbidden to be kinky.

    Rand is unique in art-history in enacting wish-fulfillment in her work.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Another Rand strategy: surround yourself with a group of sycophants half your age who know better than to ask uncomfortable questions – and if they do get too sassy, put them on trial so they may be declared a “social metaphysician” before they are purged.

  • Nancy McClernan

    If you no longer take me seriously, why do you bother to continue the discussion?

    The claim that was decisively answered is your claim that Rand never screamed at anyone, and not even the Brandens ever made the claim. I provided a quote from Barbara Branden that refuted your claim.

    Anybody reading this thread can see that it happened. So why do you even bother with your revisionism and rambling passive-aggressive attacks? Do you really think your words have that much of a reality-distortion force-field power? I’m starting to feel really sorry for you.

  • Nancy McClernan

    The issue isn’t who is allowed to be kinky. The issue is that in Rand’s mind, her kinkiness is the best way for anybody to be. Women who like to be raped are the most heroic woman of all in Rand-world.

    Rand is unique in art-history in enacting wish-fulfillment in her work.

    Nobody said Rand was unique in this trait. Although I’m glad you tacitly acknowledge that this is exactly what Rand is doing.

  • GCT

    LOL. I guess when you can’t win by your arguments, the next best thing is to pretend that you win by being aloof.

  • GCT

    You got me on a technicality. She didn’t cry out; she only fought him, tried to hit him with lamps, screamed once, and felt empty inside when it was done. Obviously, the emptiness she felt inside was all worth it for getting to be “ravished” by an Ubermensch. (In case you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic.)

  • fuguewriter

    Oh, I learn the most from the non-serious (especially the hard, bold typers of words on the Internet): they have the most well-stuffed bags of tricks.

    That’s a serious answer, by the way. Psych!

  • fuguewriter

    Technically, she reached for a lamp. Note how your case requires textual incorrectness.

    Dominique screamed out of pain. Not fear, objection, resistance, or a desire for aid. She did not object – once. She wanted it – we know it from internal description and external action. And Roark knew. And the author – who oughta know – confirms it for us extratextually.

    Roark is not an ubermensch, by the way. Rand very much disagreed with Nietzsche that man is something to be overcome, etc. – same thrust as her atheism.

  • fuguewriter

    The flaw in this construct is the following: to attempt to win in a place like this is to lose. Those who aren’t sincerely interested in the facts of the case will always, always lose out to the agenda-pushers. You win, hands down. Bravo.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Objectivists believe that reading and admiring Ayn Rand is a sign of their intellectual superiority over the rest of us. Therefore it is impossible for them to lose so much as a single point in a debate without their entire view of the world becoming scrambled.

    And ironically, Ayn Rand was not an intellectual at all:

    I knew by now that Ayn read very little, which astonished me. During this period of her life she, she occasionally read mysteries or thrillers, but very little else except The New York Times

    Judgment Day – My Years with Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden, p. 175

  • Nancy McClernan

    In the question periods following my lectures, she often became angry with any question she felt should not have been asked, perhaps because it had been answered in Atlas Shrugged or perhaps because she believed that any honest person would figure it out for himself. Most of our students seemed to love her, but sometimes she could be terrifying.

    Once, a man with a thick Hungarian accent began his question, “In his speech, Galt contends that…” He never got further because Ayn exploded: “Galt does not contend” she shouted. “If you have read Atlas Shrugged, if you profess to be an admirer of mine, then you should know that Galt does not ‘strive’, ‘debate,’ ‘argue,’ or contend.” The man looked stricken. He pleaded, “But Miss Rand, all I meant was…” Ayn thundered back at him, “If you wish to speak to me, first learn to remember to whom and about what you are speaking!”

    My Years With Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden, pp 213 – 214.

  • Nancy McClernan

    She told me explicitly that she created characters out of philosophical abstractions, and neither of us was aware of the psychological limitations this imposed. But I was aware of her animus against treating her heroes from a developmental perspective when I read her notes for the character of John Galt:

    No progression here… he is what he is from the beginning – integrated… and perfect. No change in him because he has no intellectual contradictions and therefore, no inner conflict…</blockquote

    - My Years with Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden, p. 77

  • fuguewriter

    Roark has some progression – not a lot, but some, vis a vis Wynand and Keating. Galt has none.

  • fuguewriter

    A quote from Nathaniel Branden. Path-breaking scholarship.

  • GCT

    Technically, she reached for a lamp. Note how your case requires textual incorrectness.

    Um, yeah? I’m confused. I said she reached for lamps…to hit him, as I’m unaware of any other reason she’d be reaching for items while being raped? Are you going to contend that she did it in order to dim the lights? That’s pretty sick.

    Dominique screamed out of pain. Not fear, objection, resistance, or a desire for aid. She did not object – once.

    Where I come from, a woman fighting is generally considered a good indicator that she is indeed objecting.

    She wanted it – we know it from internal description and external action. And Roark knew. And the author – who oughta know – confirms it for us extratextually.

    She wanted it? That’s why she fights, right? That’s why she feel empty inside after it’s done? That’s why she screams? And, Roark knew how exactly? And Rand seems to confirm it…after getting heat for writing in a rape scene.

    Roark is not an ubermensch, by the way. Rand very much disagreed with Nietzsche that man is something to be overcome, etc. – same thrust as her atheism.

    Yet, she writes characters that are superhuman.

  • fuguewriter

    Since we were speaking technically, you technically erred: she reached for a lamp. “Lamps” in the plural is yet another ovestatement.

    Where you come from, then, women do not have ravishment or rape fantasies. (As for the erotics of power differentials, what popularity has a book about fifty shades of something had with which gender? And this is after decades of bombardment with femininsm.)

    No, that is not why she fights. Domnique fights a) because that adds to the thrill (it’s not a good scene if there’s no resistance) and b) Rand herself says that Dominique is perverse and has a very twisted idea of the world: that the good cannot win. So she’s twisted in sex, too. Notice how the sex scenes in “Atlas Shrugged” are not of the same tenor.

    She feels empty inside because Roark is gone, she is worn out, and likely is stunned by what she learned about herself – and that she allowed someone in – and I’m not talking physically. The coarse level y’all approach this at is really remarkable. You accuse Rand of being Aspergian or unemotional or whatnot, then interpret her characters mechanically, externally, and shallowly. Roark and Domininque have a Thing.

    She screams with pain because she’s being deflowered rather forcefully.

    You’ve never had an attraction to someone where you knew what they wanted WITHOUT THEM ANNOUNCING IT IN THE COLUMNS OF PRAVDA? Talk about the death of the intuitive/passionate self. Words, words, words.

    The scene wasn’t a rape scene. A Dom/sub scene, most definitely. But actual rape? Nope.

  • Nancy McClernan

    So you don’t think Nathaniel Branden’s public account is a good enough source now, when meanwhile you were referencing the unpublished opinions of Ayn Rand’s niece?

    I’ve quoted Barbara Branden and Margit von Mises making similar public statements about Rand’s behavior at NBI lectures.

    I find it bizarre that you would discount Nathaniel Branden who virtually created Objectivism thanks to his organizational skills. And of course Rand gave him plenty of credit, dedicating “Atlas Shrugged” to him. Until, of course he refused to fuck her again. After which she had a complete meltdown and destroyed the NBI. That’s how much Nathaniel Branden meant to her – because he wouldn’t fuck her, she was willing to destroy an organization dedicated to her own glorification.

    That’s gratitude for you. But then Rand wasn’t known for expressing gratitude. From the Burns biography:

    The rat-tat-tat of Ayn’s typewriter drove her Chicago relatives crazy. She wrote every night, sometimes all night… Completely focused on her own concerns, Rand had little time for chit-chat with her relatives. Asked about family affairs in Russia she gave curt answers or launched into long tirades about the murderous Bolsheviks. The many generations of Portnoys were baffled by their strange new relative. They began to trade her back and forth, for no household could long stand her eccentricities. By the end of the summer their patience was exhausted… The Portnoys bought her a train ticket to Hollywood and gave her a hundred dollars to start out.

    Note: Decades later, members of Rand’s extended family still smarted at what they considered her failure to properly acknowledge or appreciate their help. More seriously they charged that had she fully explained the Rosenbaum’s dire circumstances in Russia, the family would have brought them all to America, thus saving their lives.

  • Nancy McClernan

    The editor of 100 Voices, Scott McConnell, is an extremist right-winger who was once on staff at the racist V-Dare web site -

    http://www.vdare.com/users/scott-mcconnell

    - and a Rand devotee, so it’s unlikely the editing of the interviews is untouched by pro-Rand prejudice. And the timing of its publication, 2010 makes it appear to be a damage-control project to counter the Heller and Burns biographies which were both published in 2009.

    And this gives me some idea of the way McConnell spins things. He’s quoted in the Ayn Rand Archives newsletter:

    In the interview, Miss Neal explained how she got the much-coveted role of Dominique—at age 22—after Greta Garbo, Miss Rand’s first choice for the role, didn’t take the part. Miss Neal discussed the shooting of key scenes in the movie, such as the first quarry scene, the scene with Roark, Dominique and Wynand under the tree on Wynand’s estate, and the “rape” scene. Miss Rand’s striking face, her friendly manner on the set, her skill as a writer and her loathing for Stalin-apologist Lillian Hellman, were also topics discussed during the interview…

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/DocServer/volume2.pdf?docID=122

    McConnell can’t be bothered to mention that Rand didn’t want Neal to play Dominique. Rand wanted Greta Garbo, but…

    In early June, before filming started, Vidor hired Patricia Neal, a twenty-two year old ingenue who had only once before appeared on screen. When Rand heard Neal’s Kentucky-bred voice on a screen test she was horrified. So, the story goes, was Gary Cooper. He swore he’d have her fired and then, over dinner with Vidor, he met her and they fell in love…

    A decade later, Rand told a dramatically different story about the making of The Fountainhead. In an early 1960s interview she said, “The whole thing was an enormously miserable experience.” Producer Blanke meant well, she said, but constantly caved in to pressure, especially when it came to casting Patricia Neal.

    - Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller, pp. 208 – 209.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Yes, because he is perfect. That’s the basis of this crazy right-wing fantasia called “Atlas Shrugged” – a perfect being who destroys the United States in his spare time off from working for Taggart Transcontinental – after he leaves the Twentieth Century Motor Company because the owners of the company force their employees to collectivize their own company!

    And the reason they did it? Because Ivy Starnes was a sadist. This is the story from Jeff Allen, who pretty much tells us everything there is to know about the situation:

    She had pale eyes that looked fishy, cold and dead. And if you ever want to see pure evil you should see the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who’d talked back to her once and who’d just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance. And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who’s ever preached ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    And this wackadoodle hack novelist’s wet dream is one of the most important texts for American right-wingers. It would be hysterically funny if it wasn’t so scary, that a small but vocal segment of American society is so incredibly ignorant and delusional.

  • Nancy McClernan

    The scenes in “Atlas Shrugged” have exactly the same tenor, even if they are not explicitly rape, the way the scene is, in The Fountainhead. Only revisionists – including Ayn Rand herself – would have the shamelessness to suggest that nobody could possibly interpret the scenario from Roark’s point of view as rape.

    It is rape in the novel. You and Ayn Rand denying that it is rape after the fact means nothing.

    (As for the erotics of power differentials, what popularity has a book about fifty shades of something had with which gender? And this is after decades of bombardment with femininsm.)

    Do you think that a woman having a dom/sub fantasy betrays feminism? Interesting. Explain how that works.

  • Nancy McClernan

    But speaking of Ayn Rand’s revisionism, let’s examine how she portrayed work on The Fountainhead movie from one decade to the next:

    Rand completed the (Fountainhead) screenplay in late June. As the shooting began in a quarry near Fresno, she remained on the lot to fine-tune the dialogue and explain her characters motivations to the actors. In letters, she sounded euphoric. She had turned in her script in a blaze of glory, she wrote to Ogden, and Blanke and Vidor had promised not to make any changes unless she approved and wrote them. Vidor, in whose hands the project rested, was an excellent director. She seemed even more delighted, if possible, in late September, when the filming ended with her plot and theme intact. “For the first time in Hollywood history,” she wrote proudly to Paterson’s friend John Chamberlain, “the script was shot verbatim, word for word as written.” When the first trial screening of the film took place in front of a live audience in January 1949, it went so well, she told her literary agent Alan Collins, that the studio executives decreed that additional screenings would not be necessary. When she suggested a few cuts that could be made during prerelease editing, the executives positively forbade her to touch a single line. The were in an uproar of excitement, she informed Collins. The front office expected The Fountainhead to be the most talked-about movie of 1949.

    A decade later, Rand told a dramatically different story about the making of The Fountainhead. In an early 1960s interview she said, “The whole thing was an enormously miserable experience.” Producer Blanke meant well, she said, but constantly caved in to pressure, especially when it came to casting Patricia Neal. Director Vidor was a vegetable, a frightened has-been whom no other studio wanted and whose career was hanging by a thread. Fired from his previous job because of cost overruns, he was concerned only with getting this movie in on time and under budget. She recalled endless unpleasant conferences with the production staff and continual arguments with Vidor over ideological and stylistic issues. Her most nightmarish moment took place during filming of Roark’s trial. Arriving on the set one day, she found Vidor shooting an abbreviated version of her hero’s speech – the soliloquy that gave the book and the movie meaning, in her view. She rushed to Blanke’s office “screaming at the top of my voice” she said…

    …What explains the disparities between her account at the time, and her recollections twelve years later? For one thing, when she finally attended the movie’s gala opening night at the Warner Theater in Hollywood in late June 1949, she discovered that one line had been cut in final editing, the sentence that summarizes Roark’s self-defense at trial: “I wish to come here and say that I am a man who does not exist for others.”

    The front office had demanded the cut, she later discovered, but no one seems to have had the courage to tell her in advance. For another, The Fountainhead was not a hit, either with film critics or at the box office. “High-priced twaddle” was the verdict of Bosley Crowther of the New York Times…

    But the larger explanation for the disparity lies in Rand’s character. She would not admit that she had written a flawed script. From adulthood, if not before, she positively refused to consider that she bore significant responsibility for any of the conflicts, failures, or disappointments in her life. “In all the years I knew her, I never heard her say anything remotely to the effect that she had acted badly, mistakenly, or unfairly,” recalled a former friend. As her fame increased and she and she became conscious of her own iconic stature with readers and audiences, she tended increasingly to fuse her life with the lives of her characters, whose mistakes, if any, arose from ignorance of others’ bad intentions and not from lack of objectivity, diplomacy or wisdom. She remembered obstacles and disappointments less as ordinary, if infuriating, setbacks than as episodes in a tug of war – like Roark’s, like Equality 7-2521′s, – with evil. People and events appeared as black or white. She minimized to the vanishing point the help she had received, failed to mention thinkers who had influenced her, and presented herself as an almost wholly self-created soul.

    - Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller, pp. 208 – 210.

  • fuguewriter

    Bias and lack of thorough research fuses two Scott McConnells into one.

    Scott McConnell: While at the Ayn Rand Institute, Scott McConnell established the Media Department, as well as the Oral History Program. He has lectured in the United States, Europe and Australia on Ayn Rand’s life and has appeared on radio and television discussing Rand’s life and thought. His writings have been published in The Intellectual Activist and in Essays on Ayn Rand’s “We the Living.” Mr. McConnell is now a documentary producer living in Los Angeles. – https://www.facebook.com/100Voices/info

    Scott McConnell (born 1952) is an American journalist best known as a founding editor of The American Conservative. – In 1968, as a student at a New Hampshire boarding school, McConnell canvassed for Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy.[1] After working on the 1976 presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, McConnell earned a Ph.D in history at Columbia University, During this time he became attracted to the neoconservative movement, and began writing for publications such as Commentary and National Review. In 1989, McConnell became an editorial writer and later columnist for the New York Post and served as editorial page editor in 1997. McConnell was fired from the Post later that year. – He has since emerged as one of the leading figures in the broadly defined paleoconservative movement, becoming a prominent supporter of Pat Buchanan.[citation needed] After spending many years as a columnist for the New York Press and Antiwar.com, in 2002 he collaborated with Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopolous in founding The American Conservative, a magazine which has served as a voice for traditionalist conservatives opposed to both liberalism and the policies of George W. Bush.[2] – At the end of 2004, McConnell became the sole editor of TAC; during the year he had written forcefully in favor of John Kerry’s candidacy for President, although adding that “If Kerry wins, this magazine will be in opposition from inauguration day forward.”[3] He was succeeded as editor by Kara Hopkins and then Daniel McCarthy (in 2010). – McConnell is an heir to the Avon fortune and stepson of actor Sterling Hayden.[4] – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_McConnell

    Objectivists are quite prominently opposed to immigration restriction. Harry Binswanger, to name one luminary, is particularly extreme in arguing for open borders and totally open immigration.

  • smrnda

    I don’t think a forgettable pulp author who lacks much knowledge about how the world works is someone anyone is obliged to give much more than a cursory read to, the only reason she’s relevant is people who follow her.

  • smrnda

    So, a situation that sounds just like a rape myth that rapist would use as justification is somehow morally unproblematic?

    Authors writing erotica concerning non-consensual or blurred consent have an obligation to make their sexual ethics explicit, or they risk people taking away the idea that physical struggle without an explicit “no” can be taken as a “yes.”

  • fuguewriter

    A famous chairman of UCLA’s philosophy department – who had a very unpleasant falling out with her – wouldn’t agree with you. (This article contains plenty for critics to mine, too, so have at it.) But she’s hardly forgettable, or pulp.

    Pt 1: http://johnhospers.com/Articles/Conversations1.html

    Pt 2: http://johnhospers.com/Articles/Conversations2.html

  • fuguewriter

    “Sounds like a rape myth” is hedged and vague in the extreme.

    Let’s get down to brass tacks.

    1. Roark did not rape Dominique – not even by our standards of today, and certainly not by the standards of that time.
    2. “The Fountainhead” defends individualism and opposes holding others down – look at how Keating, Toohey, and Wynand each come to bad ends – Wynand the worst of all. Wynand is like the popular caricature of a Randian hero – and she provides a fairly wide-ranging critique of him.
    3. Anyone who takes from the Roark/Dominique relationship or their initial sex scene (which we’re tearing out of the whole novel – this is decontextualized from the start) some defense of rape is a) an idiot and b) making excuses. He/she didn’t go rape anyone because of “The Fountainhead.”

    So, no moral taint to the author. (And, where’s this single code of morality? Please let me know. People have been seeking it for about 2,500 years.)

    Please present a list of people who raped someone else because of the sex scene in “The Fountainhead.”

    If y’all were really interested in facts, I could point you to some books that might support a weaker form of the thesis – that immature or disturbed persons have sometimes used Objectivism as an excuse for sexual molestation or assault. But it’s up to you to do your homework. And, of course, every philosophy and religion has had bad go on in connection with it, particularly around sexuality.

  • fuguewriter

    Oh, and Rand did make clear her ethics in “the Fountainhead.” At some length. In speeches, too.

    If people ignore everything in the book and *excuse* their actions based on a single scene, that’s no fault of the author. This idea of a magically influential power in a dissociated scene is curiously post-Modern. Social constructionism is the bunk.

  • fuguewriter

    Quite a right-wing fantasy: wild nonmarital sex, revolutionary technology and morality upsetting the status quo, evil and worthless rich heirs getting their just desserts … Billy Graham licks his chops at such a world.

    Wrong re. the Twentieth Century – Ivy was but one of the three. Gerald did it for prestige and power. Eric seemed to have no motive – I’d have to reread.

    > wackadoodle
    > hack
    > wet dream
    > hysterically funny
    > incredibly ignorant and delusional.

    You sound overwrought.

  • fuguewriter

    > nobody could possibly interpret the scenario from Roark’s point of view as rape.

    Another change of goal-posts: from what the scene is to how it could be interpreted by someone. How it possibly could be interpreted by someone is of approximately zero importance.

    > It is rape in the novel.

    Keep chanting. The text will yield if you say it many more times.

    >> (As for the erotics of power differentials, what popularity has a book about fifty shades of something had with which gender? And this is after decades of bombardment with femininsm.)

    > Do you think that a woman having a dom/sub fantasy betrays feminism?

    Notice that here you ask a question … a bizarre one, incidentally ,,,

    > Interesting.

    … and here move along as if you already received an answer. Hasty pudding.

    My answer is: no, of course not. Oftentimes, on the contrary. It’s an old chestnut in D/s circles that the sub holds the real power. Ayn Rand would seem to have come near this ideal: in a letter (I believe touching on the false rape-idea), she wrote that Dominique is much tougher, more severe and unforgiving than even Roark.

    > Explain how that works.

    * smile *

  • fuguewriter

    Another patented N.M. boner: the Trotskyite opinion is published: it was Patrick O’Connor, her editor at New American Library.

    Another Patrick O’Connor sample: “Patrick O’Connor, her editor at New American Library and a self-described Trotskyite, offers insights into her relationship with her publishers. ‘I thought that they hated her…They were all left-wing Democrats…not one of them had read her books, and they had been living off her all the years. I was horrified.’” – http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/columns/101116-reuben-columnsbookreview.html

    Had you shown actual interest in facts, you’d have asked before jumping in with the same elan as with your turning two Scott McConnells into one. Maybe I should use a phrase you like to use over and over again and say you *didn’t bother* to get things right. Which is one reason I don’t take you seriously. Your posts brim with vitriol, but you *don’t bother* to present a consistent case, you get basic facts wrong, you haven’t read the literature, and your manifest goal is to ride Rand down, truth take the hindmost. Your industriousness is as remarkable as your inaccuracy (and occasional sophistry).

    You continue to move goal posts re. Nathaniel Branden. You claimed that what Rand did was scream at people to intimidate, etc. as a matter of course – not a rare slip or loss of temper – that was how you portrayed her as a personality. I pointed out that she didn’t. Nathaniel Branden tells a different story than what you claim.

    it’s a wholly different issue if you maintained she could be cutting, severe, sometimes inappropriately angry. Even her heir, the much-vilified Leonard Peikoff, said her anger was sometimes not appropriate. And if I’d been talking to her, I’d have had something to say to her if she tried that with me. But her system led her to believe she had a bead on where lines of argument or talk were coming from. I don’t agree with her, so I would not be able to go along with her condemnations and the whole emotional energy brought to it. And no doubt some people were hurt by it – injured, even damaged. But in your zeal to *scream* that Rand is horrid and her devotees are laughable idiots (wow, you spread such positiveness), a decent and reasonable conversation like that is not possible with you. T’would be a waste of time.

    > So you don’t think Nathaniel Branden’s public account is a good enough source now

    I don’t know what “good enough” means. I think his memoir is a messy mix – probably emotionally true as far as it goes (though I don’t think he’s ever actually confronted what a jerk he was, to other people or to Rand with all of his lying for years – for her part, she should have known something was wrong – but her private system somewhat led her astray – still, he himself documents how deceptive and contrary he was). I wouldn’t take anything at face value, just like something pro-Rand. As her ex-lover and someone in an unhealthy relationship with her, he could only give his own take. It’s an interesting read and it influenced my writing somewhat. But I fear it’s somewhat fictiony as far as literal historical truth.

    > Ayn Rand’s niece?

    They won’t be unpublished forever. You also neglect “100 Voices” which has a vast variety of people.

  • GCT

    Since we were speaking technically, you technically erred: she reached for a lamp. “Lamps” in the plural is yet another ovestatement.

    Wow…simply wow.

    Where you come from, then, women do not have ravishment or rape fantasies.

    Some may, but I doubt that they want it from whichever guy is criminal enough to sneak into her window and force it on her. Women aren’t simply hoping to be raped.

    (As for the erotics of power differentials, what popularity has a book about fifty shades of something had with which gender? And this is after decades of bombardment with femininsm.)

    This has nothing to do with anything, and I was going to ignore it, but I wanted to point out your little red herring about feminism. There’s no reason to think that feminism would have anything to do with 50 Shades of Grey unless you seem to hold to the erroneous idea that feminism is inherently sex-negative.

    No, that is not why she fights. Domnique fights a) because that adds to the thrill…

    Yes, she was obviously thrilled with all that emptiness inside.

    b) Rand herself says that Dominique is perverse and has a very twisted idea of the world: that the good cannot win. So she’s twisted in sex, too. Notice how the sex scenes in “Atlas Shrugged” are not of the same tenor.

    Except, the scenes in Atlas are very similar (as Adam has already pointed out) and Dominique is not perverse according to Rand. Rand had rape fetishes too, and believed that all rational people should as well.

    But, I think something else is also going on here. In this scene, the hero is coming in and taking what he wants, and she’s fighting against him. If we are meant to take away that she wanted it afterwards, isn’t that a horrible example of Rand’s whole schtick – that the heroes are always right and they get to do whatever they want and we should be happy about it? It’s sick either way you slice it.

    She feels empty inside because Roark is gone, she is worn out, and likely is stunned by what she learned about herself – and that she allowed someone in – and I’m not talking physically.

    So, someone comes in and supposedly fulfills her greatest fantasy and it leaves her feeling empty inside…nope, not buying it.

    You accuse Rand of being Aspergian or unemotional or whatnot, then interpret her characters mechanically, externally, and shallowly. Roark and Domininque have a Thing.

    First of all, I have not accused Rand of having being on the Aspergers scale nor of being unemotional. I will cop to agreeing that her characters are meant to be shallow so that she can demonstrate her points through them, especially so in Atlas Shrugged. It’s why all the heroes are good looking and the villains are not.

    And, if “Thing” is defined as rape, then, yes, they have a “Thing.”

    She screams with pain because she’s being deflowered rather forcefully.

    She’s never had sex before, but she knows that she wants her first time to be painful and rapey. Yup, really believable that. If she screams in pain, maybe it’s because she was actually in pain, which doesn’t sound consensual to me.

    You’ve never had an attraction to someone where you knew what they wanted WITHOUT THEM ANNOUNCING IT IN THE COLUMNS OF PRAVDA?

    When it comes to sex, I would hope that it was discussed. If not, I would certainly back off if the woman started to hit me, say “No”, etc. I would certainly not be sneaking into her house at night to rape her, especially if we hadn’t discussed her fantasy of being raped. This is sick stuff.

    The scene wasn’t a rape scene. A Dom/sub scene, most definitely. But actual rape? Nope.

    Keep telling yourself that so that you can feel better about your hero, Rand, but just because you keep repeating it doesn’t make it any more true.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I’m the only one in this ongoing Atlas Shrugged series who has speculated that Rand might have been on the autism spectrum, AFAIK.

    But it’s not an “accusation” it’s a speculation based on a variety of behavioral traits that Rand possessed and based on some of the more inscrutable things her characters say, which appear to me to be written more from psychological bafflement about the way “normal” people behave, than from any coherent commentary on socio-political systems. Certainly Rearden’s stated inability to participate in face-to-face negotiations is striking. And the entire incident demonstrates that Rand divides the world of work into those who can deal with people and those who can deal with ideas (or really, technology) and declares that government work is exclusively the former and business is exclusively the latter.

    This bizarre dichotomy is demonstrably false. But Rand doesn’t care because Atlas Shrugged, like all her novels, is an expression of her own subjective views, because she was incapable of presenting a fictional scenario that was simply descriptive, let alone expressing a viewpoint she disagreed with – she lacked the ability to imagine herself in someone else’s shoes – something that has been claimed is a trait of those on the autism spectrum.

    http://www.dcc-cde.ca.gov/af/afbasic.htm

    However, I’m hardly an expert on autism-spectrum issues. But an unusual psychological perspective seems to explain the way Rand writes, far better than the notion that she is writing a credible and well-considered analysis of real political systems. Rand’s hero’s enemies are motivated by jealousy, sadism and an “ancient and vast” belief system which involves pretending to believe that which they do not believe. What does all that have to do with real-life Communism?

    Whether Rand was on the spectrum or not, her view of the world is extremely individualistic and idiosyncratic and makes no coherent sense in terms of analysis and critique of actual, real-life, existing socio-political systems. The world she imagines is too extremely divergent from real life to have any useful socio-political meaning.

    The fact that a group of people considers Atlas Shrugged to be a valid – let alone the greatest – analysis and critique of socio-political systems is what is most astounding and disturbing.

    Note: I’m not the first to suggest Rand might have been on the spectrum – one of her fans suggests it in this book review of the Heller and Burns biographies.

    http://www.institutional-economics.com/images/uploads/randreview.pdf

  • fuguewriter

    > Wow…simply wow.

    Yeah. Overstating betrays bias.

    > whichever guy

    Roark wasn’t a “whichever guy” – he was someone she had an extremely intense, substantial, long-standing connection with.

    > is criminal enough

    As I say to someone else re. “rape,” keep chanting “criminal”. The text will yield if you say it enough.

    > to sneak into her window

    What the text says: “She looked at the French windows. [para] He came in.” He doesn’t sneak into her window. As written, he either walks through an open door or quietly opens a door. Which means Dominique left it open: to give him access.

    > and force it on her

    He did not force it on her. He did what she wanted: he was forceful.

    > Women aren’t simply hoping to be raped.

    Thank you for an illuminating revelation. It has nothing to do with the scene under discussion. Dominique wants Roark. She wants him to take her forcefully. He knows it. He does it. That is not rape. As previously mentioned, we now see that women are not allowed to be kinky.

    > no reason to think that feminism would have anything to do with 50 Shades of Grey

    This is incoherent. You’re not even trying to comprehend what I’m saying. I’m talking about the presence in most people’s sexualities of something beneath social constructionism.

    > unless you seem to hold to the erroneous idea that feminism is inherently sex-negative.

    I know not “seems.”

    > she was obviously thrilled with all that emptiness inside.

    Which came afterward. When he is gone. When she is returning to her normal consciousness. It’s quite psychologically deep of Rand to put that in. Dominique should be experiencing fluffy bunnies inside, from the beginning to the end.

    Talk about infantilization.

    > the scenes in Atlas are very similar

    Not very.

    > Dominique is not perverse according to Rand.

    Rand said she was. Actual Rand trumps asserted Rand.

    > believed that all rational people should as well.

    Citation, please.

    > taking what he wants

    From one who wants him to do so.

    > meant to take away

    Don’t dissociate the scene from the whole of the novel, certainly not from what came before.

    > the heroes are always right

    She doesn’t maintain they are. Roark makes mistakes. So does Rearden.

    > they get to do whatever they want

    This is where you betray no understanding of Rand whatsoever. She isn’t hedonist or voluntarist. The opposite.

    > we should be happy about it? It’s sick either way you slice it.

    Notice how once again a question is asked and then an answer is immediately assumed thereafter.

    > supposedly fulfills her greatest fantasy and it leaves her feeling empty inside

    As she comes back to normal consciousness, she is stunned.

    > nope, not buying it.

    Your loss.

    > She’s never had sex before, but she knows that she wants her first time to be painful and rapey.

    You’ve never known anyone like that? I have.

    > If she screams in pain, maybe it’s because she was actually in pain, which doesn’t sound consensual to me.

    Once again: kink is forbidden. She couldn’t like it – or accept it as a cost of doing business, as it were.

    This is why I read our current culture as so profoundly weak and neurotic.

    > I would hope that it was discussed.

    That’s your preference, and well and good for your life. But others don’t. (Notice Dagny in “Atlas” – her silent thought before Francisco takes her is for him not to ask her, to just do it.)

    > I would certainly back off if the woman started to hit me

    If you did when she wanted a forceful scene, then you’d both wind up disappointed.

    > say “No”, etc.

    Which Dominique never said. If she had and been serious about it (yes, I said that), Roark would have stopped.

    > I would certainly not be sneaking into her house

    Debunked. Thoroughly.

    > at night to rape her

    Debunked. Thoroughly.

    > especially if we hadn’t discussed her fantasy of being raped.

    You restrict consent to verbal protocols. That’s fine for you, but other people *choose* not to.

    > This is sick stuff.

    You’ve shown no sickness.

    > Keep telling yourself that so that you can feel better about your hero, Rand

    Ah, the hate always comes out. And the inaccuracy.

    > but just because you keep repeating it doesn’t make it any more true.

    Projection. : )

  • Nancy McClernan

    Speaking of evidence for the speculation that Rand was on the autism spectrum, has anybody else noticed that Rand appeared to have an eye tic when she gave interviews?

    I recommend watching without the sound on, lest your growing impulse to throttle her distracts you from observing the tic.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouBZ-YqOnsU

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    I would appreciate it if we refrain from speculating on whether or not Ayn Rand had an autism spectrum disorder, unless you happen to be a doctor who was treating her (and in that case, you shouldn’t be speaking about the mental state of a patient anyway).

    Bill Frist was rightly ridiculed for attempting to diagnose Terri Schiavo’s mental condition via videotape. Let’s try not to make the same mistake.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I think I have a valid reason for speculating. Especially because Atlas Shrugged makes more sense from the neuro-atypical perspective than from an actual serious political analysis perspective.

    Nobody in this discussion seems to have any problems with those who proclaim, with no evidence other than they don’t like her, that Rand was a psychopath. Only speculations about autism are taboo.

    Why do you think that is?

  • Nancy McClernan

    And Terri Schiavo’s right to die hung in the balance, that’s why Bill Frist was ridiculed. Ayn Rand is dead and can’t be harmed by speculation – although why should that harm her? I’ve already provided evidence that fans of Ayn Rand have speculated about whether she had autism. It doesn’t seem to stop their admiration at all.

    I’ve already provided plenty of perfectly valid reasons for why I think Rand might well have been on the spectrum. If I think there is compelling evidence for it, why should I be prevented from discussing it?

    Here are people who self-identify as having autism who are speculating that Einstein might have been on the spectrum.
    http://www.wrongplanet.net/postx102546-15-0.html

    Here’s someone who claims to have autism who made a video claiming that these people had autism: Emily Dickinson, Thomas Jefferson, Mozart, Einstein, Jane Austin, Vincent Van Gogh.

    Why should Ayn Rand be left out?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTA5ov3YjbM

  • Nancy McClernan

    If somebody thinks I am wrong about Ayn Rand and autism, why don’t they just argue with me about it? Why the need for censorship?

    If some Objectivist with autism makes a video suggesting that Ayn Rand had autism, and how great that is would it be OK for me to talk about it then?

  • Nancy McClernan

    What’s the verdict on Sam Harris? I personally despise the man, but this being an atheist site, I imagine he has quite a few fans here. Here’s what he said two years ago, although I just discovered it tonight:

    As someone who has written and spoken at length about how we might develop a truly “objective” morality, I am often told by followers of Rand that their beloved guru accomplished this task long ago. The result was Objectivism—a view that makes a religious fetish of selfishness and disposes of altruism and compassion as character flaws. If nothing else, this approach to ethics was a triumph of marketing, as Objectivism is basically autism rebranded.

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/how-to-lose-readers-without-even-trying/#sthash.Hxe6o7un.dpuf

    Now I certainly wouldn’t go as far as Harris – Objectivism was a collaborative effort between Rand and her most prominent followers. I haven’t seen evidence that might suggest any of the followers were on the spectrum. And Harris doesn’t bother to actually provide reasons for why he has come to that conclusion, which I think he should. And he isn’t even suggesting that a human being had autism, he is actually equating Objectivism with autism.

    Sam Harris is clearly much naughtier than I am.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I’m talking about the presence in most people’s sexualities of something beneath social constructionism.

    So “50 Shades of Gray” is not “social constructionism” but feminism is? Explain how 50 Shades of Gray is not a cultural artifact.

    > unless you seem to hold to the erroneous idea that feminism is inherently sex-negative.

    I know not “seems.”

    Evidence, Hamlet. Let’s have your evidence that feminism is inherently sex-negative – other than Rand didn’t like feminism.

    But hey Rand, didn’t like women any more than homosexuals:

    Rand’s notes on Laski’s lecture and her resultant description of Toohey, showcased her distaste for all things feminine. Rand was repelled by the women in the New School audience, whom she characterized as sexless, unfashionable and unfeminine. She and Frank scoffed at their dowdy lisle stockings, trading snide notes back and forth. Rand was unfuriated most by the “intellectual vulgarity” of the audience, who seemed to her half-wits unable to comprehend the evil of Laski’s socialism. What could be done about such a “horrible, horrible horrible” spectacle, besides “perhaps restricting higher education, particularly for women?” she asked in her notes on the lecture. This misogyny rubbed off on Rand’s portrait of Toohey, who was insipidly feminine, prone to gossip and maliciously catty “in the manner of a woman or a nance.” Through Toohey, Rand would code leftism as fey, effeminate and unnatural, as opposed to the rough-hewn masculinity of Roark’s individualism.

    - Goddess of the Market, Ayn Rand and the American Right by Jennifer Burns, p. 45.

    She was a nasty hateful little troll of a woman. What does that say about the freaks who worship her?

  • Azkyroth

    Because 1) the symptoms associated with psychopathy actually harm people and substantially resemble the genuinely salient and objectionable traits of Ayn Rand’s writing and philosophies rather than merely being commonly confused with them, and 2) you have not had to ignore or shout down people who point out that your speculations, combined with the actual salient traits of Ayn Rand’s life and work, feed into and substantially resemble discriminatory stereotypes and misconceptions about people with a disability who are present in this conversation.

    Or more succinctly, because people other than you matter, which is a point you seem to grasp the other 99% of the time.

    You wouldn’t suggest that Ayn Rand wrote the way she did because she was PMSing at the time, or that it might be that she expressed the views she did because of black ancestry. Why is this any different? And why is being allowed to hurt people who are already hurt A LOT (even if it’s, here, “Only Psychic Harm“) by society so fucking important to you?

  • Azkyroth

    They did.

  • GCT

    Yes, it is a right wing fantasy, as it preaches an undying faith to the free market…one that we know from empirical evidence is misplaced. And, the idea that the owners of a company would force their workers to collectivize is patently absurd.

  • Nancy McClernan

    The issue presently at hand is not whether Rand was a psychopath OR had PMS. The issue is whether or not anyone in this discussion may be permitted to make the case that Ayn Rand was on the autism spectrum.

    Adam compared me to Bill Frist because of my speculations on the issue.

    But it’s clear that anybody may make the case that Rand was a psychopath without tripping the censorship wire or being compared to Bill Frist – only when somebody makes the case that she was on the autism spectrum does the hammer come down.

    It appears to be a case of hypocrisy and favoritism at work here.

    Do you really not get the abstract principle?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Hurling obscenities and insults at me, and asking the board’s owner to censor me do not qualify as an argument. Do you really not know what an argument is? Here, watch this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

  • Nancy McClernan

    you have not had to ignore or shout down people who point out that your speculations, combined with the actual salient traits of Ayn Rand’s life and work, feed into and substantially resemble discriminatory stereotypes and misconceptions about people with a disability who are present in this conversation.

    I have made it crystal clear a number of times that most of what I know about autism comes from the online self-reporting of those who claim to have autism. I compare what they say with what I know about Rand, and there often seems to be similarities.

    More importantly, there are aspects of Atlas Shrugged that make more sense to me if the author is neuro-atypical. I’ve explained in detail why I think so.

    But why don’t you explain to me what you consider to be actual traits of people on the autism spectrum. Based on your shrieking anytime somebody suggests that there may be other indicators of autism besides being a famous genius like Einstein or Mozart, you think that there is a huge international conspiracy to misrepresent those on the spectrum, and that I am part of this nefarious conspiracy.

    You may not be able to understand it, but there are those who think that Rand ranks right up there with Einstein and Mozart and would happily include Rand in with the pantheon of famous genii with autism.

  • Nancy McClernan

    You wouldn’t suggest that Ayn Rand wrote the way she did because she was PMSing at the time, or that it might be that she expressed the views she did because of black ancestry.

    I’ve read several discussions of Rand where it was suggested that her Russian heritage was responsible for the way she wrote. I don’t necessarily agree, but I don’t feel the need to scream at them, or try to censor them. But then, I’m not an authoritarian.

  • GCT

    Yeah. Overstating betrays bias.

    That you seem to think parsing my language for parts of speech that you can take out of context to compare with the text to make sure they line up exactly constitutes a compelling argument is much more indicative of something than my exasperation with your shoddy approach.

    As I say to someone else re. “rape,” keep chanting “criminal”. The text will yield if you say it enough.

    Keep saying it’s not rape…the text still won’t support you.

    He doesn’t sneak into her window. As written, he either walks through an open door or quietly opens a door. Which means Dominique left it open: to give him access.

    Figure of speech…stop trying to parse my words for technicality gotchas and deal with the content.

    And, you’re actually claiming she left her window open so that Roark and only Roark would come in, at that moment to “ravish” her? How did she know he would come then? This is especially poor as an argument.

    He did not force it on her. He did what she wanted: he was forceful.

    When the woman and trying to beat the crap out of you to get away from her, it’s forcing.

    Thank you for an illuminating revelation.

    Well, it appears that you actually need to be told such seemingly trivial things.

    I know not “seems.”

    Wow. OK, you need to stop dealing in stereotypes when dealing with feminism and feminists. Not only are you wrong, but laughably so.

    Which came afterward. When he is gone. When she is returning to her normal consciousness. It’s quite psychologically deep of Rand to put that in. Dominique should be experiencing fluffy bunnies inside, from the beginning to the end.

    Talk about infantilization.

    The infantilization is you treating women as if they are vessels to receive the seed of the ubermensch and that they secretly like it. It’s also in you claiming that she’s suddenly empty inside only because Roark has left and she’s too infantile to deal with her issues (not supported by the text, BTW).

    Not very.

    Well, it’s already been dealt with by Adam in a previous post in this very series.

    Rand said she was. Actual Rand trumps asserted Rand.

    Which is why all the sex scenes in her books are the same…which is why Rand thought all people should smoke, etc.

    She doesn’t maintain they are. Roark makes mistakes. So does Rearden.

    They are always right in the ways that matter. When they are wrong, it’s usually because of a good character trait or it somehow leads to a breakthrough, like Rearden’s new bridge design.

    This is where you betray no understanding of Rand whatsoever. She isn’t hedonist or voluntarist. The opposite.

    Actually, she sort of is. She just has this idea that the ubermensch will want to do business stuff and make money.

    Notice how once again a question is asked and then an answer is immediately assumed thereafter.

    It’s a rhetorical question. Again, notice how you don’t deal with the content of my objection, but instead try to critique the style.

    As she comes back to normal consciousness, she is stunned.

    Normal consciousness? Whatever are you talking about? Are you now asserting that she was not in her right mind when she was being raped? Which is it? Did she want it and consent or not? You can’t have it both ways, especially since you are arguing Rand’s side. IOW, you just lost.

    You’ve never known anyone like that? I have.

    The singular of anecdote is not anecdata.

    Once again: kink is forbidden. She couldn’t like it – or accept it as a cost of doing business, as it were.

    OK, I’m calling this out (again). You’re presenting a false dichotomy. Either this is rape and no one is allowed to have a “kink” or this is not rape according to your false dichotomy. It doesn’t work that way, however. Just because people are allowed to have kinks doesn’t mean this isn’t rape. This is not a “kink”, it’s rape.

    This is why I read our current culture as so profoundly weak and neurotic.

    How rapey of you.

    That’s your preference, and well and good for your life. But others don’t.

    When it’s not discussed, it’s rape.

    (Notice Dagny in “Atlas” – her silent thought before Francisco takes her is for him not to ask her, to just do it.)

    Again, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim the scenes in Atlas are different and then positively compare the scenes as being not-different.

    If you did when she wanted a forceful scene, then you’d both wind up disappointed.

    Better to be disappointed than in jail because it would be rape if one continues while the woman is fighting back and explicit consent has not been given. That’s why people have things like safe words.

    Which Dominique never said. If she had and been serious about it (yes, I said that), Roark would have stopped.

    So, no matter what a woman does, as long as she doesn’t actually say “No” (for whatever reason) then she actually wants it. Got it. You are a rapist in waiting.

    Debunked. Thoroughly.

    Not even remotely, except in your imagination.

    Ah, the hate always comes out. And the inaccuracy.

    What hate? What inaccuracy? ‘Oh noes, people point out that Rand’s philosophy is shit. It must mean that they hate her and are unreasonable and illogical assholes.’ Nice defense mechanism, but it doesn’t actually help your arguments.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Quite a right-wing fantasy: wild nonmarital sex, revolutionary technology and morality upsetting the status quo, evil and worthless rich heirs getting their just desserts … Billy Graham licks his chops at such a world.

    So in your world, only conservative Christians count as right-wing. How interesting. And it isn’t only “worthless rich heirs” who get theirs – anybody familiar with the Taggart Death Train incident is aware that all kinds of people got their “just desserts” for their sins against Objectivism.

    You sound overwrought.

    Since I’m describing Ayn Rand and her fans, it’s appropriate.

    And speaking of overwrought, in sharp contrast to Rand’s Ubermensch, who accept being sexually rejected with calm equanimity (because rational men have no conflicts of interest with each other, according to Rand), when it came to herself being sexually rejected, Rand had a complete meltdown:

    Branden reports that Rand remained psychologically dependent on him after this period, and eventually began pushing for a resumption of their affair; his own marriage, meanwhile, was deteriorating, although he and Barbara were becoming closer as friends.[19] Branden then met and fell in love with a student at NBI, Patrecia Scott (née Gullison). The two began an affair in 1964, shortly after which Nathaniel separated from Barbara and informed her of the affair.[21] He and Barbara kept the affair secret, fearing Rand’s explosive anger.[22] In 1968, Rand learned of the affair, and, in response, violently condemned both Brandens, dissociated herself from them, and denounced them publicly.[23][24]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Branden

  • Nancy McClernan

    Wrong re. the Twentieth Century – Ivy was but one of the three. Gerald did it for prestige and power. Eric seemed to have no motive – I’d have to reread.

    The issue isn’t that Ivy Starnes had two brothers, one who committed suicide, the other who let Ivy Starnes run things. The issue is that Ayn Rand explicitly equates Communism with sadism – my bolded emphases:

    She had pale eyes that looked fishy, cold and dead. And if you ever want to see pure evil you should see the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who’d talked back to her once and who’d just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance. And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who’s ever preached ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    So according to Rand the “real motive” of Communism is putting oneself in the position inflicting pain on others out of sadistic pleasure. I don’t see how anybody could miss that, if they actually bother to read it.

  • GCT

    BTW, it’s just deserts, not just desserts.

  • Nancy McClernan

    It was a mistake that I corrected about two minutes after I typed it. But sure, I’m not perfect – unlike you and Ayn Rand, I am able to admit to making mistakes.

    And the Ayn Rand’s niece refers to your recounting what she said to you. Or are you saying that your story is included in 100 Voices?

    And I’ve already read some of the content in that book, thanks to its being a reference source for the Rand bios. I will get to it though, although as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the editor is a hard-core right-wing Randian and clearly not objective about Rand and I’m sure it impacts how the book is edited.

    Also the publication date is interesting – one year after the two big Rand biographies were published. Seems likely a damage-control effort.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I don’t know what “good enough” means. I think his memoir is a messy mix – probably emotionally true as far as it goes (though I don’t think he’s ever actually confronted what a jerk he was, to other people or to Rand with all of his lying for years -

    If you read his memoirs you would know that he does confront what a jerk he was.

    More importantly I’ve quoted other people who knew Rand and the Collective, saying what a jerk Branden was – and yet they exactly concurred with Braden’s observations about Rand, and her slavishly devoted followers.

    Ayn Rand was a ridiculous person and so were her followers – all accounts of The Collective make this clear. I’m sorry you can’t handle it. Or maybe your conception of “ridiculous” varies from mine.

    I wouldn’t care, of course, except that right-wingers out to destroy the safety net and de-regulate the stock market, among other horrors, look to her as a prophet and philosopher, and attempt to use her work to justify their actions.

    They seek to do real harm in the real world based on the incoherent Rand fantasies of Atlas Shrugged.

    Pointing out just how nutty Atlas Shrugged is will not do much to stop right-wingers – political action is required. But on the other hand it’s easy and fun to point out how nutty Atlas Shrugged is, and while it may not stop right-wingers, it annoys the hell out of them – as you have so often demonstrated – and so why not?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Had you shown actual interest in facts, you’d have asked before jumping in with the same elan as with your turning two Scott McConnells into one.

    Let’s have the evidence for your claim that I turned two Scott McConnells into one.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Finally, we don’t have to rely on anybody but Rand herself to see how incredibly screwed up she was. She was a hateful person, but it’s hard not to feel sorry for how delusional she was in her iron-clad self-absorption and obtuseness. Heller reviewed Rand’s own notes about the situation when she wanted to start screwing Nathaniel Branden again and he refused:

    …she was making more than one hundred pages of shrewd, if painfully myopic, journal entries about what had gone wrong between them. She did not accept for a minute that her age was the real source of the problem…

    Still under the impression that he was sexually ‘frozen’, she added: “Thus he can claim there is nothing seriously wrong with him.” At times her notes expressed an austere affection for the bright young man she had met and mentored; at other times, she struggled with overwhelming revulsion against his “filthy soul.” Most often, she displayed remarkable control as she analyzed him from every point of view consistent with her characters and philosophical convictions. At times, she wept in grief. Not once, however did she ask herself what responsibility she might bear for the harrowing end of one of the two most important allegiances of her life. Nor did she attempt to inhabit Branden’s point of view – that, say of a young man entranced and half-consciously seduced by a charismatic, authoritarian mother figure from whom he lacked the courage to break free. Such empathy for the other was outside her range…

    …she was sure of one thing, however “with the full power, logic, clarity and context of my mind.” She was too much for Nathaniel Branden… at one time, she wrote, he did have the potential of becoming a hero and a genius, and if he had chosen to pursue Roark’s values of independence and integrity she would not be too much for him, she reflected from inside her world of fantasy.

  • Nancy McClernan

    The new trade paperback, 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand is the result. This long-anticipated volume, a project of the Ayn Rand Archives (full disclosure: several of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances including McConnell are among the participants), is an important addition for anyone interested in Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and creator of Objectivism.

    …There is more, both from those who did not like her and (mostly) those who admire her.

    There are multiple rewards, including the stories of the Florida family that hosted Miss Rand during her attendance of the historic Apollo 11 rocket launch at Cape Canaveral in 1969

    I’m guessing that 100 Voices doesn’t point out Rand’s gigantic hypocrisy in adoring the government-funded and run space program after she wrote “The Fascist New Frontier.”

    http://scottholleran.com/ayn-rand/100-voices-an-oral-history-of-ayn-rand/

    It appears that at one time Scott McConnell was the director of the Ayn Rand Institute. So basically 100 Voices is a production of the people who have financial motivation to prop up the reputation of Ayn Rand.

    http://www.prodos.com/transcript/scottmcconnell1.html

  • GCT

    Which came afterward. When he is gone.

    This, BTW, is factually incorrect. The text states that she felt “empty, light, and flat” before he left. It’s the next paragraph when he leaves. Shoe on the other foot and all…I guess that means I get to claim that you’ve been thoroughly debunked (although the rest of my and Nancy’s argument really does that, not slavish adherence to technicality at the expense of content).

  • fuguewriter

    Her private notes are quite fascinating – one can read them for oneself in James Valliant’s books “The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics.”

    I used to criticize Rand quite vociferously for not having realized that her young lover wasn’t into her, but I’ve come to have a good bit more empathy for her over time. (It’s chortle-making how unempathic the critics of Ran’d empathy are.)

    Rand wrote to herself that if it was her age she could accept that, but NB himself writes he reassured her that wasn’t it.

    I agree with Heller that Rand doesn’t, in the notes, introspect at her personal role in the situation. She probably felt her conduct had been above reproach – unfortunately, we’ll never really know, because the crucial events happened in private.

    I think if NB had been more honest with her from the get go – I note you don’t quote the passages where he himself admits that he was kind of acting or being dramatic/theatrical – she would have been more able to empathize. But again, you and Heller (and NB) don’t really allow her to be fully human, ironically (again) given your criticisms: she was deeply in love with a guy who, by his own later reflective admission, didn’t return her feelings but swore he did, but something was always in the way. Yet she’s supposed to be a steely superwoman of empathy, now? You also don’t quote BB’s biography where she talks about how empathic and non-judgmental she could be before the publication of “Atlas” and things went bad with NB.

    > a young man entranced and half-consciously seduced by a charismatic, authoritarian mother figure from whom he lacked the courage to break free.

    That casts NB as a little more the victim than he was, even when young.

    I agree, incidentally, that AR was profoundly wedded to her viewpoint. One knew that going in. She had to be, else she wouldn’t have been her – and couldn’t have done the things she did. She’s just like many great innovators and creators – and her private life is saintly compared to, say, Picasso or Vladimir Horowitz or many other great names. The polyamorous relationship was a mistake, but if you look at AR as a person – which is what y’all yell about, empathy and people-care – she was a straightforward, blazingly passionate person who thought she was getting the straight story from a guy who wasn’t there in the way that she was. This isn’t interpretation – it’s what NB himself says. In brief: he was somewhat acting – she wasn’t.

  • fuguewriter

    You pun on the word “came.” Dominique’s emptiness is shown lasting quite a bit longer after his departure than before. Matter of focus. Paragraphs after leaving versus a few sentences before.

    Your take also bolsters my reading: do rape victims feel empty, light, and flat while the evil rapist rests beside them?

    Considering the absurd inaccuracies and the weight given to the least thing by you and Nancy, it’s rich for you to speak of slavish adherence.

    You and Nancy share a single argument? What a neighborhood. (And Nancy’s no arguer. Coherence and she are strangers, which is why I’m a butterfly with her.)

  • fuguewriter

    That’s quite a substantial reply. : )

    Anyway, from your own fingers:

    Nancy McClernan fuguewriter
    • 2 days ago
    The editor of 100 Voices, Scott McConnell, is an extremist right-winger who was once on staff at the racist V-Dare web site -
    http://www.vdare.com/users/scott-mcconnell

  • fuguewriter

    Classically, yes – colloquially, it has shifted. I’m a mix of descriptive and prescriptive, re. grammar.

    BTW, “BTW” is not proper English. But colloquially it’s fine. : )

  • Nancy McClernan

    The issue is that we rely on the text as written, rather than rationalizations – by Rand and Rand fans – for why what is portrayed isn’t really rape.

    There is nothing in the text that indicates that Roark knew Dominique’s thoughts in the moment. But fuguewriter apparently believes that we should simply accept statements like this, on his authority:

    Dominique wants Roark. She wants him to take her forcefully. He knows it.

    Note how he doesn’t present any text from the actual book to support the assertion that “He knows it.”

    Although I imagine he’ll simply suggest that we scour the text and find supporting evidence for him, as is his habit.

    To see how far Rand-lovers are willing to go to justify the absurdities of Rand’s work, trying to bolster it all with their own fan-fiction, check out this attempt to make the entire Ragnar Danneskjold scenario plausible:

    The description of Ragnar Danneskjöld’s vessel, as mentioned, was sorely lacking. One can infer the type of vessel that Ragnar commanded only from his activities. His ship would have to be fast but also heavily armed. With regard to this last: armaments sufficient to stop another ship and take it as a prize are of one type. But armaments capable of shore bombardment are quite another. In one memorable episode, Ragnar Danneskjöld fires shells (or has bombs dropped) at a factory and leaves not a brick standing, according to the accounts of the men who witness it. The minimum armament that could accomplish such an operation is that of a destroyer, or better still a cruiser.

    The quickest method by which Ragnar Danneskjöld could acquire such a ship would be to steal it from either the Brooklyn Navy Yard or the San Francisco Navy Yard. He could accomplish this most easily in the case of a ship brought into one of those yards for decommissioning. But he would have to accomplish this seizure before any of the armaments were removed from it. More to the point, he would have to train his crew specifically to seize a ship out of dock, a highly specialized mission that he would never have to run again.

    Far more likely, he could rely on Francisco d’Anconia to commission a ship, ostensibly for his merchant marine, and then refit that ship as a ship of war.

    http://conservapedia.com/Ragnar_Danneskj%C3%B6ld

  • GCT

    The issue is that we rely on the text as written, rather than rationalizations – by Rand and Rand fans – for why what is portrayed isn’t really rape.

    No doubt. I was poking at fuguewriter’s propensity for picking out some trivial detail like an extra “s” that doesn’t change the content of the objection and making a huge deal out of it in order to avoid the content, then claiming that it makes for a thorough debunking.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Thanks for the heads-up on 100 Voices – it has so much that bolsters everything I’ve said about Rand. Here’s a fun bit:

    I told her that I liked The Fountainhead and she asked what I thought about the philosophy, the theories of the novel. I said that I didn’t know there was any philosophy in it, and she said, then how can you say that you liked it. I said, because I loved the story. It was fascinating. She got mad and she left and I never heard from her after that. It was her philosophy that she was so proud of.

    Did you agree with some of her philosophy?

    Oh yes, I did. I just disagreed with the fact that philosophy was the most important element. She stood there leaning on the mantelpiece giving me the evil eye. She really disliked me when I said it.

    Marcella Rabwin – 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand. p. 46

  • fuguewriter

    My pleasure. Lots to cherry-pick for you.

    And just think: the more you cherry-pick, the more obvious you are. It’s a win-win!

    ( Marcella Rabwin was the original for Peter Keating in “The Fountainhead” – interesting how she thought he was the villain of the piece, and she loved Roark. I’ve a copy of an unpublished very chatty-friendly letter from Rand to Rabwin from the 1930s. )

  • fuguewriter

    Please display where central planning works better than economic freedom.

  • fuguewriter

    Given that you (and other stalwarts here) attempt to hang Rand on the smallest point, you won’t be exempted from close reading.

    Keep chanting “rape.”

    > How did she know he would come then?

    The depicted buildup of her deliberate provocation. Do you recall what happened just before he entered?

    > laughably so.

    You, like Nancy and other Internet-addicted disputers, share a liking for highly-juiced words.

    > women as if they are vessels

    Women are not allowed to want to be ravished. Understood.

    > they secretly like it.

    Dominique made no secret. She flaunted her wishes.

    > she’s too infantile to deal with her issues

    Silly mirroring.

    > all the sex scenes in her books are the same

    They’re not. Agreed she deals with one particular color – the most tense, polarized, violent, etc. (I personally retract from the lack of tenderness, but she wanted and lived drama, which thrives on extremes.)

    > Rand thought all people should smoke

    > They are always right in the ways that matter.

    Wrong. Rearden is in an utterly lovely marriage and has a dishonorable affair (in which Dagny engages – a curious thing, if one wants to hold Dagny to perfect morality – not qute sure yet how that works, however good for Rearden it was).

    > When they are wrong, it’s usually because of a good character trait or it somehow leads to a breakthrough, like Rearden’s new bridge design.

    Agreed. So? You’re really intolerant of Rand’s diversity.

    > > She isn’t hedonist or voluntarist. The opposite.

    > Actually, she sort of is. She just has this idea that the ubermensch will want to do business stuff and make money.

    Not at all. Her system is very clear on this – it goes to the basics of her ethics and where she thinks people get emotional rewards from.

    > Normal consciousness? Whatever are you talking about?

    You think a passionate sexual experience occurs in normal, daylit consciousness?

    > Are you now asserting that she was not in her right mind when she was being raped?

    Are you now asserting that you are now asserting an assertion? It grows tiresome to point out where your misinterpretations come from: from the desire to find as much wrong as possible.

    > Did she want it and consent or not?

    Because one couldn’t consent to go into the altered state of consciousness known as sexual passion.

    > You can’t have it both ways

    Which depends upon your demonstrating an inconsistency. You don’t even run the most basic coherence test on what you write.

    > especially since you are arguing Rand’s side. IOW, you just lost.

    Were you playing a game in your head?

    > > You’ve never known anyone like that? I have.

    > The singular of anecdote is not anecdata.

    Yum.

    Here’s your style: Raperaperaperape, time-wasting misinterpretation based on desire to find whatever possible fault might be plausibly ascribed, then resume raperaperaperape.

    > When it’s not discussed, it’s rape.

    Make sure to let everyone know who feels othwerwise that you have so ruled.

    > You can’t claim the scenes in Atlas are
    different and then positively compare the scenes as being not-different.

    Another forced contradiction-find. Because it’s either total difference or total sameness, right?

    > Better to be disappointed than in jail

    Gotta be one or the other, right?

    > explicit consent has not been given. That’s why people have things like safe words.

    And there’s also the right to dispense with such things.

    > no matter what a woman does

    These people are not generic cyphers. They are specific characters who actually interacted outside the limited sphere you’re attempting to confine it to.

    > Got it. You are a rapist in waiting.

    Raperaperaperape.

  • fuguewriter

    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy.

    I’ve met Nathaniel Branden several times and had a nice penpal relationship with him for a bit.

    I read his memoir in galley.

    If you have something substantial to say, I’ll read it, but “If you read” is just silly. I know the literature better – far better – than do you.

    I’ll be *cherry-picking* even more judiciously from here on in. : )

  • Science Avenger

    “You’re presenting a false dichotomy. Either this is rape and no one is allowed to have a ‘kink’ or this is not rape according to your false dichotomy. It doesn’t work that way, however. Just because people are allowed to have kinks doesn’t mean this isn’t rape. This is not a ‘kink’, it’s rape.”

    It’s remarkable, and revealing of abject ignorance on the subject, that anyone needs this explained. Kinks are done with consent like any other form of moral/legal/right sex. I won’t go so far as to claim the consent must be verbal, not too romantic that, but consent there must be, especially if its going to be as rough as Roark inflicts, and there isn’t the slightest hint of it in Dominique’s behavior. In fact, it’s hard to see how any rational person could come to any other conclusion except that it was NOT consensual.

    It seems clear that Rand considered women sexual vessels to be taken by their betters, consent or not.

  • GCT

    You certainly haven’t demonstrated that you know it better than Nancy.

  • GCT

    Please display where I put forth that false dichotomy. Just like most right-wing shills, you seem to have the view that anything that is not your version of Randian capitalism is communism/socialism.

  • GCT

    Ah, it has not actually shifted colloquially either. “Desserts” refers to food items. “Deserts” refers to something deserved.

    And, FYI, there is nothing wrong or improper with using acronyms.

  • GCT

    The depicted buildup of her deliberate provocation. Do you recall what happened just before he entered?

    Remind me where it says that he was going to come in her window and rape her.

    You, like Nancy and other Internet-addicted disputers, share a liking for highly-juiced words.

    IOW, you have no reply to the fact that you are dead wrong about feminism.

    Women are not allowed to want to be ravished. Understood.

    OK, this is now over the line into dishonesty. This has already been dealt with as I’ve already pointed out the issues with this statement being a false dichotomy and why it doesn’t hold up. That you are returning to it just shows you are intellectually dishonest and out of ideas.

    Wrong. Rearden is in an utterly lovely marriage and has a dishonorable affair (in which Dagny engages – a curious thing, if one wants to hold Dagny to perfect morality – not qute sure yet how that works, however good for Rearden it was).

    Neither is portrayed as an error.

    Agreed. So? You’re really intolerant of Rand’s diversity.

    More dishonesty. There’s no real diversity there. The good “guys” are all good looking and right all the time, while the villains are all ugly and wrong all the time.

    Not at all. Her system is very clear on this – it goes to the basics of her ethics and where she thinks people get emotional rewards from.

    It is rather clear, that those who are selfish should do what they want to help themselves. This is actually hedonistic in a sense.

    You think a passionate sexual experience occurs in normal, daylit consciousness?

    Yes. You do not become a different person during sex.

    Are you now asserting that you are now asserting an assertion? It grows tiresome to point out where your misinterpretations come from: from the desire to find as much wrong as possible.

    I’ve pointed out a contradiction by you which destroys your argument. Your rebuttal seems to be dissembling to the point of incoherence followed by ad hominem. I think it’s safe to say that you concede this point as well.

    Another forced contradiction-find. Because it’s either total difference or total sameness, right?

    You’re the one that claimed they were different and then claimed they were the same. Make up your mind.

    Gotta be one or the other, right?

    I guess one could be like Roark and simply try to get away with it. Except, that’s not an option for me, because I actually have a moral compass.

    And there’s also the right to dispense with such things.

    In which case Roark wouldn’t know that he wasn’t raping Dominique. Way to step in it.

    Raperaperaperape.

    Not my fault you seem to not understand the idea of informed consent.

  • GCT

    You pun on the word “came.”

    Those were your words, not mine.

    Dominique’s emptiness is shown lasting quite a bit longer after his departure than before. Matter of focus. Paragraphs after leaving versus a few sentences before.

    Doesn’t matter. You claimed that it only happened after he left, because it was due to his leaving. That is factually incorrect. She was empty while he was still there. That’s exactly how someone should feel after fulfilling a fantasy with a person they are totes in a “thing” with, eh?

    Your take also bolsters my reading: do rape victims feel empty, light, and flat while the evil rapist rests beside them?

    How in the world you think it bolsters your reading is well beyond me. I would imagine that, yes, being raped can make one feel empty, light, and flat. And, how much resting was going on there? The text doesn’t indicate that it was more than a moment. Again, you seem to have no problem inserting your own words in to the text if you think it can help your argument.

    (And Nancy’s no arguer. Coherence and she are strangers, which is why I’m a butterfly with her.)

    She’s brought quotes to back up her arguments. You simply pile scorn on her (and me) as a substitute for reasoned argument.

  • Science Avenger

    Sports. A little backwater like East Germany became a world power under socialism, and the NFL is a proudly centrally planned socialist (via the draft and salary caps) entity, whatever profit motive the component parts might have.

    Oh, then there’s that little thing called “warfare”. No free people (in your use of the term) ever accomplished what the central planners did. And then there’s the interstate highway system, which took a disorganized mishmash that took Eisenhower weeks to traverse into a system 10 times more efficient. And of course, landing on the moon…

  • fuguewriter

    i’ll let the cancer-ridden athletes of the former DDR know how well that worked for them. (We’ll leave aside the tiny point that that wasn’t an economic competition.)

    Re. highway system (which had more than a bit to do with defense purposes), moon landing (there was private competition permitted?) – it’s quite the alternative history to claim that the United States went centrally planned from the 1950s on.

    Let’s try predominant economic freedom versus predominant central planning: the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavian countries (which have some significant free aspects) versus resource-rich Venezuela, and good old coast North Korea. Only a fool would deny the advantages of central planning.

    (P.S. – How was the moon landing and Interstate system financed? Surely not through taxes, which would mean that the free economy component was what made them possible.)

  • fuguewriter

    >> You pun on the word “came.”
    > Those were your words, not mine.

    And you used the word afterward in your critique with a shifted meaning.

    > That’s exactly how someone should feel after

    fulfilling a fantasy

    There is only one possible way any person can feel after fulfilling a fantasy. Domninique is not a unique individual with (as Rand said) a somewhat eccentric psychology at that point. She is just Female.

    How oppressive.

    > I would imagine that, yes, being raped can make one feel empty, light, and flat.

    … wow …

    > She’s brought quotes to back up her arguments.

    She quotes much. The quotes don’t back up her arguments. She cherry-picks, diverts, ad hom.s, etc

    > You simply pile scorn on her (and me) as a substitute for reasoned argument.

    You I still take somewhat seriously. Her, not at all. I came in not knowing Nancy from anyone. When I saw she was not here to reason, but to snark and pile hate on Rand, I began to treat her accordingly.

  • fuguewriter

    > Remind me where it says that he was going to come in her window and rape her.

    Remind me what school of literary analysis holds that all that exists in a text is from explicit statements. See how that dovetails with your shallow conception of consent? This is akin to these dolts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antioch_College#Sexual_Offense_Prevention_Policy_Controversy

    Again, there’s no textual support that he came in through her window. The text is actually silent on his exact means. One may infer a French window-door left open. Notice also that the words you and the rest never quote, but that are there right after Roark first touches her: “…the thing she had thought about…” No doubt you will maintain that Dominique had thought about them only because she feared the scary rapist … whom she had previously invited into her room … while laying on her bed dressed to seduce … and with whom she’d gotten irked when he did not respond and instead gave a learned lecture on the types of marble.

    This is why your analyses are without worth, because you decontextualize. You cherry-pic and burrow down into single words and sentences, such that the actual reality is lost and there is only your bias left at the bottom.

    >> You, like Nancy and other Internet-addicted disputers, share a liking for highly-juiced words.
    > IOW

    Again, the inevitable sign of fail.

    > you have no reply to the fact that you are dead wrong about feminism.

    Which “fact” was nowise established. Foolish misinterpretations due to negative bias and facts have just a few differences.

    > this is now over the line into dishonesty.

    Oh, you crossed that line some time ago, but you’ve been coasting on credit extended.

    > Neither is portrayed as an error.

    Contra-textual. See Rearden’s realization that, e.g., he was the most corrupt man in the room, that he had made the evil possible, etc. What was he being liberated from? Rearden was a tortured person – that came from a major error on his part. Dagny, for her part, is intended as the prototype of the businessperson who made possible statist oppression. In her notes for the novel, Rand explicitly calls this Dagny’s error.

    if your point is that the characters don’t have the normal-living amount of errors, wrong turns, uncertainties – sure. The difference between us is that that seems to matter so much to you.

    > The good “guys” are all good looking and right all the time, while the villains are all ugly and wrong all the time.

    This is repeated by y’all over and over again. And not accurately. Midas Mulligan is no beauty. This is no more significant than the leads in Hollywood movies being good-looking. In part, that’s what gets our primate juices flowing especially when a sex scene happens.

    > those who are selfish should do what they want to
    help themselves. This is actually hedonistic in a sense.

    You simply do not know or understand her system. It really is as clear as crystal. She completely rejects “doing what they want” and “to help themselves” enters nowhere. See http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/hedonism.html and http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/selfishness.html for a decisive refutation of your view. “What I feel like doing” (I know this is not exactly what you said) is exactly what she opposed, so it cannot possibly enter into her heroes’ conduct. For her rejection of emotionalism, see http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/emotions.htmlSee also

    >> You think a passionate sexual experience occurs in normal, daylit consciousness?

    > Yes. You do not become a different person during sex.

    Internally? Never? I feel sorry for you, then. Try reading some D.H. Lawrence or something.

    > I’ve pointed out a contradiction by you which destroys your argument.

    The problem’s that your “contradictions” proceed either from misinterpretation, willful silence, or insertion of your own premises. Not my contradiction, then,

    > it’s safe to say that you concede this point as well.

    Safe as the dollar.

    > You’re the one that claimed they were different and then claimed they were the same. Make up your mind.

    Textual inventions, now.

  • Science Avenger

    Here’s a little mind experiment to further make the point that central planning can produce superior results to free rational actors. Imagine a neighborhood of 11 homes with two choices of power. One, a clean option (say solar) costs $100/month. The other, a dirty option (say coal), costs $95/month, but produces $1/month of cleanup costs on the surrounding homes.

    Now if you give your rational actors the choice of systems, they are going to choose the dirty option, since its cheaper. But in doing so, they inflict additional costs on each other resulting in a cost of $105/month for each of them. It doesn’t do any individual any good to choose the clean option. It only increases his costs, while creating a savings for his neighbors.

    Contrarily, even if all them agree to choose the clean option, there is great incentive for cheating and choosing the dirty option, because if you are the only dirty user, your cost is $95/month, while everyone else is now at $101/month. That further encourages others to change, and in no time, due entirely to rational choices, everyone is back at the sub-optimal $105/month cost.

    Only with central planning, that says like it or not, you must choose the clean option, do all the people get the optimal result of $100/month power costs.

  • fuguewriter

    You’re not displaying a centrally-planned economy.

    Microeconomic constructs leave aside small matters like how those prices were determined and what meaning they’d have in a centrally-planned regimen. (The price spread is, of course, preposterous. Terrestrial solar is weak even at 100% efficiency.)

    Also, the “rational” part of “rational actor” (in the homo economicus sense) isn’t really necessary and doesn’t correspond to homo sapiens. Game theorists are acknowledging pretty readily that their model don’t predict human choosing so well. That’s one reason evolutionary psych has something to it.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Scorn and contempt are the two mightiest weapons in the Objectivist’s arsenal – they hope their bluster will provide cover for their lack of coherent arguments. As we have seen demonstrated here. Rand was the pioneer, natch.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2009/0911.odonnell.html

  • Nancy McClernan

    Another change of goal-posts: from what the scene is to how it could be interpreted by someone.

    That fact that Rand meant one thing (not really rape) but wrote another thing (really rape) indicates what a bad writer she is, and very probably her inability to see things from others’ point of view. She knew what she meant, so anybody who got it wrong, based on the text alone, is just a dumbass. And as many have attested, as I have demonstrated here and elsewhere with quotes, Rand was not capable of admitting error.

  • fuguewriter

    The non-existent is incapable of demonstration.

    No rape. Consensual kinky sex. Thought of, invited, experienced.

  • Nancy McClernan

    You seem to have the same problem as your hero – you write one thing but you mean something else.

    For those of us conversant with the English language, your implication here is obvious, but let’s break it down for those with reading comprehension issues:

    (As for the erotics of power differentials, what popularity has a book about fifty shades of something had with which gender? And this is after decades of bombardment with femininsm.)

    First:

    “As for the erotics of power differentials, what popularity has a book about fifty shades of something”

    So the topic at hand is the popularity of the book Fifty Shades of Grey.

    Next:
    ” had with which gender”

    The book has been call, condescendingly, “mommy porn” and so the gender would be female.

    Your sentence structure is awkward but the clear implication is that you find the fact that it was more popular with women than me significant.

    Then:

    ” And this is after decades of bombardment with femininsm.”

    You are clearly making some kind of connection with the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey and feminism, and the fact that you use the term “decades of bombardment with feminism” indicates that the popularity of the book is in spite of an attack by feminism.

    But then when I ask “> Do you think that a woman having a dom/sub fantasy betrays feminism?”

    You say: “no, of course not.”

    And yet your original comment made it clear that you do think that women like the book in spite of feminism.

    I don’t know if you’re just a bad writer, or you changed your mind in a few days, or – well really I don’t care. The result is a very tedious discussion.

    I’m fine with letting it go, however. I’m here to talk about “Atlas Shrugged” and Ayn Rand, two subjects I’ve only recently studied. I’ve been arguing for feminism since I was a baby and it’s no longer especially interesting or challenging.

    I will say one thing on the subject – while women were the audience for the novel, the indisputable fact is that by far the biggest client-base for professional dominatrices are men.

  • fuguewriter

    Ayn Rand is my hero? Hmm!

    >> “As for the erotics of power differentials, what popularity has a book about fifty shades of something”
    > So the topic at hand is the popularity of the book Fifty Shades of Grey.

    Incorrect. The topic’s power and sexuality. Fifty Shades appears as a current instance only.

    > The book has been call, condescendingly, “mommy porn” and so the gender would be female.

    Since the book is not the topic, what some people have called it is unimportant.

    > you find the fact that it was more popular with women than me significant.

    This is twisted (and not in the book’s sense). It had nothing to do with you: I had/have no idea of your opinion of the book. The point was the erotic draw many (not all, certainly) women feel to a story of erotic power differential – and this after decades of feminism claiming that gender is entirely socially constructed and that patriarchy comes from social messages.

    > you use the term “decades of bombardment with feminism” indicates that the popularity of the book is in spite of an attack by feminism.

    OMG, something i can agree with from Nancy.

    > And yet your original comment made it clear that you do think that women like the book in spite of feminism.

    Yes. You’ve shown no contradiction. Do you even know that there are waves of historical feminism? There’s also feminism as a personal value and the historical feminist movement. This is what comes of forcedly looking for errors. You just come out with pap.

    > I don’t know if you’re just a bad writer, or you changed your mind in a few days, or – well really I don’t care.

    Your lack of care is evident. Your war mentality, shared with Bowman and others, leads you to see error where there isn’t.

    > The result is a very tedious discussion.

    You do have a lumbering quality. True.

    > I’ve been arguing for feminism since I was a baby

    Right.

    > while women were the audience for the novel, the indisputable fact is that by far the biggest client-base
    for professional dominatrices are men.

    That … has nothing to do with anything.

  • Nancy McClernan

    How many unpleasant anecdotes about Ayn Rand must exist before referencing them no longer becomes “cherry picking”?
    There are so many other anecdotes about Rand having an extreme reaction to anybody who disagreed with her. This anecdote shows typical Rand behavior.
    Only someone in complete denial could fail to recognize this.
    And you aren’t too worried about Rand villains because you quoted Harry Truman in your own defense elsewhere, and you must have known he was the original for Mr. Thompson in “Atlas Shrugged.”

  • Nancy McClernan

    And Rand’s response to Marcella Rabwin’s keeping up with the Jones mentality – which is an outlook on life not at all incompatible with capitalism – was to decide that such a mentality was “collectivist.” Yet one more example of the real basis for Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” – anything she personally liked was capitalist, anything she personally didn’t like was collectivist.
    Her PTSD from her mother giving away her toy chicken, followed by the trauma of the Russian Revolution was the basis for Rand’s persona: self-referential, fear-filled, tunnel-vision.. And her novels are not useful or coherent critiques of any socio-economic systems – they are titanic tantrums against her personal bete noirs. They have nothing whatsoever to do with bona fide “collectivism” although right-wingers love to believe that the pathology portrayed by Rand as collectivism really is collectivism.

    There are some right-wingers who actually get that:

    http://www.libertyunbound.com/node/858

  • Nancy McClernan

    Ayn Rand is my hero? Hmm!

    Obviously – you’ve yet to offer a single criticism of Ayn Rand in all your excessive verbiage.

    > you use the term “decades of bombardment with feminism” indicates that the popularity of the book is in spite of an attack by feminism.

    OMG, something i can agree with from Nancy.

    And you’ve proven that the issue is the book’s popularity, as I said it was, in spite of your trying to backpedal on the issue of “popularity.” So you are just like Rand – you write one thing but you mean something else. Or rather, you change the meaning after the fact.

    There’s nothing else worth addressing – it’s too tedious to play such pointless games. Buh-bye.

  • GCT

    Remind me what school of literary analysis holds that all that exists in a text is from explicit statements.

    I’ll remember that next time you claim something is counter-textual because it’s not explicitly in the text. I love how you try to have it both ways. Either way, my argument is dealing with the text as presented. That I don’t permit myself to simply add things in just so that I can meet a pre-conceived conclusion the way you do is not a fault on my end.

    Again, there’s no textual support that he came in through her window.

    Irrelevant.

    Notice also that the words you and the rest never quote, but that are there right after Roark first touches her: “…the thing she had thought about…”

    Nancy quoted the whole passage above, so no one is avoiding this. I fail to see the relevance. There’s no indication whether she thought about it positively or negatively, and it doesn’t matter anyway. A woman doesn’t consent simply by having thoughts in her head of a man having touched her at some point.

    whom she had previously invited into her room … while laying on her bed dressed to seduce … and with whom she’d gotten irked when he did not respond and instead gave a learned lecture on the types of marble.

    Consent given or invited at a previous point in history does not give Roark license to do whatever he wants later on. Additionally, this is another contradiction for you. You previously claimed that she wanted her first time to be violent and taken from her, yet here you’re claiming that she was trying to be more conventional. Again, you can’t have it both ways.

    Again, the inevitable sign of fail.

    Again you persist in not having an answer to objections and engaging in ad hominem and personal attack instead.

    Which “fact” was nowise established. Foolish misinterpretations due to negative bias and facts have just a few differences.

    That you are dealing in negative stereotypes is actually factual. That those stereotypes are wrong is also factual as anyone who has spent any amount of time reviewing the subject would know (so long as they didn’t spend their time on MRA sites).

    Oh, you crossed that line some time ago, but you’ve been coasting on credit extended.

    You’re going to have to defend that. I pointed out why and how you were being dishonest. You simply make the accusation. I request that you back it up or retract at this point (although I suspect you’ll do neither given your penchant for insult, lack of substance, and intellectual cowardice and dishonesty).

    Contra-textual. See Rearden’s realization that, e.g., he was the most corrupt man in the room, that he had made the evil possible, etc. What was he being liberated from? Rearden was a tortured person – that came from a major error on his part. Dagny, for her part, is intended as the prototype of the businessperson who made possible statist oppression. In her notes for the novel, Rand explicitly calls this Dagny’s error.

    Errors, like being too perfect, are not actual errors.

    if your point is that the characters don’t have the normal-living amount of errors, wrong turns, uncertainties – sure. The difference between us is that that seems to matter so much to you.

    It should matter to anyone. The story is ham-fisted. The heroes are a bunch of Mary Sues and the villains all wear black hats. It’s trite and boring. It’s also supposed to be a realistic portrayal of her philosophy, yet it relies upon non-reality (not to mention the reliance on what is basically magic in the form of impossible technology).

    This is repeated by y’all over and over again. And not accurately. Midas Mulligan is no beauty. This is no more significant than the leads in Hollywood movies being good-looking. In part, that’s what gets our primate juices flowing especially when a sex scene happens.

    It’s lazy and unsophisticated writing as well as unrealistic.

    You simply do not know or understand her system. It really is as clear as crystal. She completely rejects “doing what they want” and “to help themselves” enters nowhere.

    Except for the fact that that’s exactly what her characters do, over and over. When Dagny wants a train to go through at whatever speed she wants, she simply threatens and bribes officials, and that’s not portrayed as a bad thing. She, certainly, can do whatever she wants so long as it’s in the pursuit of profit.

    Internally? Never? I feel sorry for you, then. Try reading some D.H. Lawrence or something.

    You’re basically arguing for some form of dualism here. I’m sure Rand would not approve. It’s bunk either way.

    The problem’s that your “contradictions” proceed either from misinterpretation, willful silence, or insertion of your own premises.

    Then, you should be able to argue against them. The best you’ve been able to do is simply insult.

    Safe as the dollar.

    I assume you are being facetious here, but you still offer no defense. No rebuttal at all. Snide accusations, insults, sarcasm – none of these are coherent rebuttals to points made.

    Textual inventions, now.

    Again, snide accusations are not cogent substitutes for substantial arguments.

  • GCT

    And you used the word afterward in your critique with a shifted meaning.

    I did no such thing.

    There is only one possible way any person can feel after fulfilling a fantasy. Domninique is not a unique individual with (as Rand said) a somewhat eccentric psychology at that point. She is just Female.

    I take it here that you are claiming that I’m trying to put her into some stereotypical woman category? That’s simply false. People don’t react the way she reacts to good events. The way she’s reacting is indicative of having been violated.

    … wow …

    Again, nothing of substance from you.

    She quotes much. The quotes don’t back up her arguments. She cherry-picks, diverts, ad hom.s, etc

    You continually make those types of accusations, but never bother to back them up. I think we both know why that is. The fact is that Nancy does a lot of work in bringing arguments to the table that are supported by the quotes she brings along. You simply say, “Nuh uh” throw in an insult, and then think you’re winning. It’s almost comical.

    You I still take somewhat seriously. Her, not at all. I came in not knowing Nancy from anyone. When I saw she was not here to reason, but to snark and pile hate on Rand, I began to treat her accordingly.

    If her arguments were so easy to discredit, one would think you’d be able to do so. You have not been able to do so, and no, piling scorn upon her does not count as actually rebutting an argument.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Thank you GCT. I’m not sure what special privileges you are getting for being still taken “somewhat seriously.” Apparently that lofty status doesn’t get your direct questions answered, nor prevent you from being insulted.

    You would think that if insulting Ayn Rand got fuguewriter so upset he’d stop reading this “Atlas Shrugged” series. I mean, I’m not the worst insulter of Ayn Rand – I mainly post the awful things she’s said and done, and my responses to same, but I haven’t suggested she was a sociopath – several others here have.

    My guess is that while we consider Ayn Rand a bad writer, important only in that she inspires right-wingers to try to destroy the social safety net, she means much more to other people and to insult Ayn Rand is like insulting their mother.

    I heard from fuguewriter before I joined this ongoing discussion series because I was blogging about “Atlas Shrugged” while reading it. He posted to my blog just to tell me how worthless it was:

    http://mcclernan.blogspot.com/2013/06/more-on-chapters-4-5-of-atlas-shrugged.html#comment-form

    So he hasn’t been taking me seriously since June.

  • Science Avenger

    I was demonstrating how removing freedom can result in optimal results that individuals acting rationally cannot achieve. That’s all it takes to blow up Rand’s view, whether you arbitrarily decide to refer to it as “central planning” or micro-macro.

    As to the rest, I’ll leave to others to interpret. I find your tendency to express yourself in halfthoughts and seemingly intentional vagueness most tiresome.

  • Science Avenger

    You have an amazing ability to blindly dismiss counter examples to your worldview based on either nothing, or pointless semantic masterbation. You can’t change reality by redefining it. The fact remains that the success of communist countries in sports, and the construction of the highway system, and our reaching the moon, were NOT done according to Randian percepts, and in fact ran counter to them.


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