Atlas Shrugged: Homo Economicus

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VI've said that, in the name of being fair to Ayn Rand, I'll point out the passages in Atlas that struck me as good, effective writing. This part has one of them, a suitably moody and atmospheric description of what's happening to New York City:In the second week of February, for the purpose of conserving copper wire and electric power, a directive forbade the running of elevators above the twenty-fifth floor. The upper floors of the buildings had to be … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: No OSHA Compliance

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIIAt the end of his workday, Rearden is looking down on the factory floor, musing on Dagny's story of Ken Danagger's disappearance and the strange force that's causing business owners to abandon their jobs. Rearden wonders, with a touch of envy, why they didn't come for him as well; but in the next instant he angrily thinks that he'd murder anyone who tried to persuade him to give up his steel mills.Finally, he turns to go, but he finds Francisco … [Read more...]

Repost: The Box Office Shrugs at Atlas Shrugged

[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from March 2013.]Way back in 2011, I wrote about the hilarious box-office trainwreck (see what I did there?) that was Atlas Shrugged: Part I. Inexplicably, Ayn Rand's dense, multi-hour soliloquies in defense of capitalism failed to translate well into the medium of film. The last news I heard after the movie's belly-flop was that its producer, heroic rich guy John Aglialoro, … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Glory Days of Child Labor

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIIWhen she hears that Hank Rearden and Ken Danagger have been indicted for illegally doing business, Dagny rushes to Pittsburgh. For reasons she can't fully explain, she's certain that Danagger will be the next to vanish, and she's desperate to reach him and convince him to stay before he's taken away by the "destroyer" - her term for whatever force or entity is causing all the country's great capitalists to disappear without a trace.Her appointment with … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Men With Guns

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIIEntering Rearden's office, Dr. Floyd Ferris wore the expression of a man so certain of the success of his quest that he could afford a benevolent smile.Rearden asks why he requested an appointment, and Ferris says it's in regard to the five thousand tons of Rearden Metal that the State Science Institute ordered several months ago. Rearden reminds Ferris that he already turned them down and has no intention of reconsidering."But that was five … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Lion’s Share

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIINow that we've seen Lillian's reaction to her discovery of Hank's affair, let's flash back briefly. Earlier in the chapter, while Hank and Dagny were in bed together, she said this to him:"Hank, I want nothing from you except what you wish to give me. Do you remember that you called me a trader once? I want you to come to me seeking nothing but your own enjoyment. So long as you wish to remain married, whatever your reason, I have no right to resent … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Pump and Dump

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIAfter Francisco's big speech comes to an end, a suitably impressed Hank Rearden comes over to talk to him:"Before I met you, I used to wonder how you could waste a fortune such as yours. Now it's worse, because I can't despise you as I did, as I'd like to, yet the question is much more terrible: How can you waste a mind such as yours?"Francisco parries that he doesn't think he is wasting it. Rearden asks Francisco why he doesn't practice what he … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Three-Fifths Compromise

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IILet me make one thing clear, to begin with: I don't think Ayn Rand was an unintelligent person. She was fiercely dogmatic in her opinions, quick to anger, possessed an enormous ego, and rarely if ever forgave. She also had more than a few intellectual blind spots, which I've been pointing out throughout this series. But I believe she put real thought into her moral system, flawed as it is, and had a genuine desire to be taken seriously as a … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Incorruptibles

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIThe time has come for the first of The Speeches. These are Ayn Rand's infamous filibusters in which the action comes to a halt so that one of her characters can deliver a lengthy philosophical lecture expounding their author's views. The speech in this chapter is one of the shorter ones - a mere 2,600 words, scarcely a footnote compared to what's coming later - but even that would take at least 20 minutes to recite at normal speed. Naturally, in the world … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Gini Coefficient

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IAfter Hank chases off the government crony who wants to buy his metal, the chapter shifts to a series of vignettes with him and Dagny. They're arranging increasingly frequent liaisons whenever Hank is in New York, and as the looter-run economy contracts around them, Dagny looks forward to her time with him more and more:The only pride of her workday was not that it had been lived, but that it had been survived. It was wrong, she thought, it was … [Read more...]