Ayn Rand’s Words Live On

Earlier this week, the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, CA announced that Penguin Random House will be publishing a “lost” novel that Rand wrote in 1934. The title is Ideal which shares the same title as a previously published play of hers. This novel will be released by July 2015, in a single volume with the play.

At this year’s upcoming 2014 Objectivist Summer Conference (Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, June 27-July 4), the Ayn Rand Institute will be hosting a Q&A session about the book. Ayn Rand’s intellectual heir, Dr. Leonard Peikoff, will be answering questions there concerning this “lost” novel.

wpid-ayn_rand1.jpgAround the 1950s, Ayn Rand became well-known for her two works of fiction: Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. These novels promoted and supported a new philosophy which she called, Objectivism. Objectivism includes 5 major philosophical branches: 1) metaphysics, 2) epistemology, 3) ethics, 4) esthetics, and 5) politics. These divisions make up her philosophy that essentially stresses individual rights and freedom from coercion to find happiness for oneself. It is a guide for how to live life here, on earth.

Following her fiction, she wrote non-fiction which further developed, explained, and expanded her own Objectivist philosophical theory.

Ayn Rand spent her entire life creating a world that she saw as possible for man to attain. Inspired by the works of Aristotle, she wrote about man as a hero. She glorified his accomplishments and vision throughout the ages. She believed in heroes.

Heroes are needed more than ever before in this country. We require leaders who can take responsibility for their actions, as with the Benghazi attack. We need heroes who can say that the Affordable Health Care Act does not work. We desire frontrunners that will butt heads with the NSA. We want individuals to stand up for themselves and their country at large. Men and women who will put an end to this mixed economy and allow for the free market system to thrive. People who will seek to teach others about man’s ego and his right to use “I” in a sentence – to use “I” as a basis for a rational, moral foundation.

Ayn Rand wrote and spoke about those invisible heroes, and there has been controversy over it ever since. Yet, her voice continues to grow stronger with each passing year.

Do you want to know why this “lost” novel means so much to the country right now? It is because Rand’s books are prophetic and the American people are crying out for a hero that has yet to be found. America burns for inspiration, guidance, and eloquence to combat these rough times.

We the people are desperately searching for the ideal hero who is always there in Ayn Rand’s novels.

Rape The Poor, Taxi’s Must Be Regulated!

Watching what can only be described as liberal media is a sort of hobby of mine. Back in July I wrote an article concerning a simply hilarious piece by Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones wherein regulation is defended as deregulation. When a publication produces something as good or as bad as that was, depending on your view on such matters, it deserves a spotlight. Today, I am happy to say we have a contender, from PandoDaily’s, Paul Carr.

Anyone who has read even the first part of Atlas Shrugged will be aware of the basic premise of the story. Although I would argue it fails to do the book justice, Wikipedia has a more then helpful plot summary that will be more then sufficient for responding to Carr’s article. (Yes, it’s that bad.) Here’s the short excerpt we’ll be needing.

As the novel opens, protagonist Dagny Taggart, the Operating Vice President of Taggart Transcontinental, a giant railroad company originally pioneered by her grandfather, attempts to keep the company alive during difficult economic times marked by collectivism and statism. While Dagny runs the company from behind the scenes, her brother, James Taggart, the railroad’s President, is peripherally aware of the company’s troubles, but will not make any difficult choices, preferring to avoid responsibility for any actions while watching his company go under. He seems to make irrational decisions, such as preferring to buy steel from Orren Boyle’s Associated Steel, rather than Hank Rearden’s Rearden Steel, despite the former continually delaying delivery of vital rail. In this as in other decisions, Dagny simply goes ahead with her own policy and challenges him to repeal it.

Hank Rearden, a self-made steel magnate of great integrity, has recently developed a metal alloy called Rearden Metal, now the strongest and most reliable metal in the world. Hank chooses to keep the instructions to its creation a secret, sparking jealousy and uproar among competitors. False claims are made about the danger of the alloy and are backed by government agencies.

In Atlas Shrugged, Dagny is clearly written as the protagonist and the hero who builds the John Galt Line despite the government regulators and her brother getting in her way. In Atlas Shrugged according to Paul Carr, Ayn Rand wrote James Taggart as the hero for not challenging the regulators. Why? Because this is the only way he can, even as poorly as he has done, tie together a frankly ridiculous narrative wherein Objectivism is responsible for Travis Kalanick’s having given up on trying to work with New York regulators to get his taxi hire service, Uber, on New York streets. But first, a little back story.

Uber is a service which allows you to order a cab from anywhere in the city, at any time and any place. The service is designed to be exceptionally easy to use and in such a way as to act as your own private driver. Needless to say, the service has been forced to go up against the ridiculous barrier of regulations that keep taxi cab fairs high and drown out competition. According to Carr’s own article, Kalanick has had success in fighting these regulations in Washington and Boston, but decided to give up on New York. Why? Again, Carr includes it in his article.

For one thing, the TLC is bound by contracts with existing vendors not to allow any other credit card processing in NY cabs until next February.

Maybe Carr has forgotten the definition of monopoly. Maybe he never actually learnt what it meant to begin with, but frankly, this is something to be legitimately outraged by. If you ever needed a definition of monopoly, this is it. But hey, according to Carr, going up against a very real monopoly isn’t a reason to get mad.

And there’s the rub. Given their Randian origins, we kid ourselves if we think most Disruptive businesses are fighting government bureaucracy to bring us a better deal. A Disruptive company might very well succeed in exposing government crooks lining their pockets exploiting outdated laws, but that’s only so the Disruptor can line his own pockets through the absence of those same laws. A Disruptive company may give you free candy in your 50-dollar cab but, again, that’s only because doing so is good business.

And I see absolutely nothing wrong with this and in fact celebrate such things both as a consumer and as a producer. The whole point of trade is profit. If either party thought it was getting a worse deal, neither would engage in it! Carr would seemingly rather the farms be run by the state and everyone starve then farmers run them for profit and produce food that actually feeds people. He would not be the first.

If poisoning that same candy suddenly becomes better business (like encouraging New York cab drivers to be distracted by their phones, or putting vulnerable people at risk of attack is better business)… well maybe that’s an option worth exploring too. After all, food safety legislation is just another attempt by the government to drive Disruptive businesses off the road.

Hey, are you having an emotional response yet? No? Why not!?

Laws don’t exist merely to frustrate the business ambitions of coastal hipsters: They also exist to protect the more vulnerable members of society. Back home in London (where such statistics are available), 11 women a month are attacked in unlicensed cabs, and unlicensed drivers are responsible for a horrifying 80 percent of all stranger rapes. If Uber doesn’t have to follow licensing laws, then neither does any Tom, Dick, or Harry who chooses to paint the word “TAXI” on the side of his car, and start offering rides via the Internet.

Where’s that emotional response?

In Atlas Shrugged, Taggart’s competitor in Colorado, the Phoenix Durango line, is shut down by the regulator at James Taggart’s behest when it passes the ‘Anti-dog-eat-dog’ rule. Dagny immediately rushes to contact the owner, Dan Conway and apologize for her brothers actions. She also states, she would rather have competed honestly and fairly then have performed such an under hand tactic.

It’s unclear whether Carr thinks Objectivists would ever actually support violating someones rights for profit. Hint, they wouldn’t. John Allison, a major contributor to the Ayn Rand Institute, regularly speaks on both the principles and pragmatic case for business in a free market not to harm their consumers.

But, since we live in a world with regulation, let’s assume that these statistics which oddly enough are given no source are true. Carr does not once stop in this article to ask why it is that people would ever consider using unlicensed cabs when there are ridiculously heavily regulated ones that theoretically are safe.

It’s a compelling message but also one with dire potential consequences for public safety, particularly for those who can’t afford to take a $50 cab ride to Whole Foods.

Oh, that’s right! The cost of a cab is too damn high, so those unable to afford a state regulated cab must use illegal ones for which market regulation has as a result all been but completely stripped out. But hey, the TLC has an agreement. Who cares if women unable to access Uber have to be raped…

Nowhere in this article does Carr address once why Objectivism is responsible for Kalanick’s abandonment of New York but perseverance in other cities. If anything, had Kalanick proceeded regardless of the regulators, the connection would actually have made sense. Instead he has simply dropped names and apparently and unsurprisingly, that’s sufficient for liberal chow time.

Krugman’s unlikely reading of Rand

Paul Krugman writes:

… Ryan has said that his views on monetary policy are based on Francisco d’Anconia’s speech in Atlas Shrugged.

Aside from revealing just how much of a Rand fanboy Ryan is — urban legend, my foot — this is interesting because that 23 paragraph speech isn’t just a call for the gold standard; it’s a call for eliminating paper money and going back to gold coins.

That speech is the one known as the money speech, I’ve linked to it because Krugman doesn’t. Krugman is right to some extent, the speech does represent a call for the gold standard, but it is wrong to characterise it as a 23 paragraph speech in favour of a return to gold coins. Yes the characters in Atlas Shrugged do exchange gold coins for cigarrettes, for the use of a car, groceries etc, and there is one tiny sub-clause in 1100 pages about how slips of paper should be gold:

Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor – your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?

When I read this, I considered it a simplification. You could argue that Rand’s portrayal of the characters using gold coins cannot be a simplification, or that could be a nod in the direction of plausibility. A bank note found in the hands of a worker, labelled “Bank of Midas Mulligan”, would be a bit of a giveaway to the authorities looking for missing industrialists; the coins marked US Dollars less so. But the best evidence that this is a simplification is twofold:

  • Rand’s aesthetic premises, which are well documented, advocate leaving out details and simplifying down to what is most important.
  • Its 0.19% of the money speech. Five words from 2617. Five words from 1100 pages of a book, does not make it a theme.

Krugman is just setting up a strawman for the purpose of poking holes. These five words are his protection from accusations of outright dishonesty. He knows the speech is about the moral status and cultural role of sound money. He knows it advocates money as a store or token of stored wealth given value by production, rather than a debt payable by the confiscation of wealth from future generations of the virtuous. He knows that only the most literal and bone headed reading of the speech would read it as a serious call for gold coinage, and that the real message in policy terms is that money should be backed by real wealth, and not confiscated future wealth.

© commonwealth.club

Krugman read it closely enough to count the paragraphs and he was able to read its content at his leisure. He did not. Instead he is just trying to cast aspersions on Paul Ryan so that credulous democratic voters will be able to feel they have read something about Ryan’s beliefs and will be happy to vote Obama, and thus for Krugman’s favoured economonic theories. If he had chosen to discuss where the value of money should come from his readers would be lead in another direction that Krugman does not favour, so he offers up a tidbit about the history of coinage instead.

Dear Democrats if this is all you’ve read then you haven’t read a damn thing, but please vote Obama anyway because if this trash represents the level of discourse of our most honoured intellectuals then all that can come of a Republican victory is that Rand continues to get the blame for policies she would never endorse.

The Fountainhead

Alex Singleton is organising an exclusive showing of The Fountainhead in a fashionable London theatre in September:

The story centres around Howard Roark, an architect who refuses to conform to the uncreative limits that others try to impose upon him. According to Ayn Rand, the author: “Whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man’s nature and of life’s potential. There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them. This is one of the cardinal reasons of The Fountainhead’s lasting appeal: it is a confirmation of the spirit of youth, proclaiming man’s glory, showing how much is possible.”

We expect that most viewers will want to enjoy local pubs after the film, making the afternoon an excellent way to socialise with like-minded individuals.

Tickets start from £9.99 for students, £11.99 for everyone else.

If you are a Love Film member, you can reserve the DVD.