Atlas Shrugged

Interesting. Rep. John Campbell of California:

“People are starting to feel like we’re living through the scenario that happened in ‘Atlas Shrugged,’” said Campbell. “The achievers, the people who create all the things that benefit rest of us, are going on strike. I’m seeing, at a small level, a kind of protest from the people who create jobs, the people who create wealth, who are pulling back from their ambitions because they see how they’ll be punished for them.”

This, on top of the fact that sales of Atlas Shrugged “have almost tripled over the first seven weeks of this year compared with sales for the same period in 2008.”

I actually received a few nastygrams for a brief post I made on Objectivism (the post, I believe, has gone down the memory hole). Needless to say, I’m not as keen on it as I was at 15 or 16, before I developed an interest in political philosophy.

But the basic premises of Objectivism deserve attention, especially as it concerns the success of the individual. As individual economic freedoms seem more and more at risk in recent days – and as the Tea Party movement responds – it makes sense that folks out there are turning to a more liberating system of thought.

At least, more liberating than what we’re seeing in the current political climate.

(H/T: Instapundit)

5 Responses to Atlas Shrugged

  • Alan Phipps says:

    Interesting — my co-workers were talking about just this very thing at lunch the other day. They suggested it might be time to re-read the book.

  • Greg says:

    Who is John Galt?

    You know, with the economy sinking I had been trying to come up with a funny mock advertisement of the Catholic Church advertising the priesthood as one of the most lucrative and financially profitable jobs in the world today. Well, we haven’t gotten there yet, but if it keep sinking, Josh, you may discover that you’ve made a very wise career choice for reasons other than strictly religious. :-)

    I think Ayn Rand did for capitalism what Kant did with the categorical imperative.

    Kant demonstrated the existence of God on moral grounds, and Ayn Rand demonstrated the moral grounds of capitalism.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems I remember a long time ago one of the earliest gatherings of American bishops came out with a socialist agenda. But American Catholic businessmen repudiated this in the strongest terms. They understood that creating prosperity for themselves and others by offering products that people wanted and were interested in buying was a good thing.

    And it does seem as if Obama is trying to stop the ‘engine of the world’. These are the most draconian financial measures I’ve seen in my lifetime. It has been called a war against the investor class and a war against capitalism.

    No wonder people are remembering Ayn Rand’s famous hymn to capitalism at this time.

    Another thing involved here is that the major spokesmen for capitalism in this struggle make up a cooperative effort between Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism.

    Rush, the obvious frontrunner, is a sort of non-church-connected Protestant. Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham are both practicing Catholics (Laura a convert). Levin and Prager are both Jewish. And of course Bill O’Reilly is a practicing Catholic.

    This really mirrors what I see out in the regular workaday world. Often people work together and are friends for many years before they even know the religious affiliation of their colleagues. And this is the kind of group loyalty and friendship I would like to see manifested in a variety of areas.

    You know, Ayn Rand’s funeral was accompanied by wreaths shaped as dollar signs because she had so forcefully presented a case for making money as an ethical and moral choice.

  • Hiya Greg –

    I’m not sure about the early meetings of American bishops. There were many in the Church who leaned toward socialism (of sorts), and this (should have?) been resolved with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891), which seeks a happy medium between the extremes of capitalism and the nutty brokenness of extreme socialism. RN is brilliant, by the way, and I see it as generally supportive of the basic tenants of capitalism as they operate in our country today.

    Of course, from the 60′s up till recently, this didn’t stop a lot of bishops from advocating semi-socialist policies. And, to some degree, one might consider JPII as leaning toward a kind of Christian socialism. The rise of Liberation Theology – anathema sit! – is an extreme example of this.

    My problem with Ayn Rand rubs up against why I like her: it’s extreme capitalism, and extreme capitalism always borders on exploitation. If I really want to maximize profits through the sweat of my brow, somewhere along the line I’m going to abuse the little guy. It’s inherently selfish, and her solution seems just as morally troublesome as the situation she addresses. Ultimately, her system of thought places the individual over the people, and I find this problematic given what a government exists to do in the first place, holding the two in a kind of harmonious tension.

    And yet at the same time, isn’t the individual often minimized in the name of the people? And isn’t that what we’re seeing now in Obama’s proposed budget – a budget that penalizes producers and the overall success of individuals, no doubt about it – which is killing the stock market every day? Didn’t we see that in the bailout, which does very little to aid small business and a whole lot to fund pet projects around congressional districts nationwide? Don’t we see it in Obama’s move toward “healthcare reform” (another thing, I might add, which is sending the market to the toilet)? Michael Boskin, professor of economics at Stanford, writes on all this and more today at the WSJ. His conclusion?

    On the growth effects of a large expansion of government, the European social welfare states present a window on our potential future: standards of living permanently 30% lower than ours. Rounding off perceived rough edges of our economic system may well be called for, but a major, perhaps irreversible, step toward a European-style social welfare state with its concomitant long-run economic stagnation is not.

    Anyway, when you see these things unfold, it’s kinda hard not to say it: Who is John Gault?

  • Greg says:

    I think we’re on the same page, Josh. William F. Buckley and Ayn Rand had an antagonistic relationship for years, and not simply because Rand was an atheist.

    However, I think Rand must be credited with offering the most forceful advocacy for capitalism that has ever been put into print. And at the time she wrote this, socialism was rampant, and so she really attacked the current paradigm of the day.

    You know, when Buckley came out with the National Review it was virtually the only publication devoted to conservatism in existence.

    I would feel very comfortable with central government being about the size it was back in the late 1950s. The feds were a player, but people still identified themselves by what states they came from. And the governor was as big a deal as the president in the lives of most people. In this environment there was a huge amount of local charity and people looking after their own community. And as you know, part of conservatism is local control. We had relief before we had welfare, and if you simply consider the meaning of those two words, you can see that they are very different paradigms.

    I am a capitalist, and I believe in capitalism. However, I believe that materialism is the capitalistic threat.

    You know, there is that old metaphysical concept of inversion. “Satan is the ape of God.” I’ve stated in the past that a problem with materialism is that qualities such as love, compassion, courage, beauty, etc., get completely overshadowed by quantifiable terms and a scientific definition of reality that excludes all of the qualitative side of life.

    I think that this argument between capitalism and socialism trying to discover a utopia is misplaced. Capitalism works better than any other system. And at the same time it offers the possibility of materialism overpowering the Sacred.

    Socialism offers neither prosperity nor the Sacred. Most of the people I’ve known who are truly down and out don’t have a lot of time to think about religious matters unless out of desperation. I reject the idea that somehow poverty is a more religious state in which to dwell. (When things are going well, my personal religious inclinations get a lot more time and attention, and life is better.)

    My ideal would be capitalism that was not materialistic, but one that recognized the qualitative side of existence, or what Tillich calls the dimension of depth.

    As you know, I am a member of the ‘church of St. Paul Tillich’ (which makes me a weirdo anyway), and I have to admit that he also went through a socialistic phase.

    Nonetheless: “How did the dimension of death become lost? Like any important event, it has many causes, but certainly not the one which one hears often mentioned from ministers’ pulpits and evangelists’ platforms, namely that a widespread impiety of modern man is responsible. Modern man is neither more pious nor more impious than man of any other period. The loss of the dimension of depth is caused by the relation of man to his world and to himself in our period, the period in which nature is being subjected scientifically and technically to the control of man. In this period, life in the dimension of depth is replaced by life in the horizontal dimension. “

  • Greg says:

    (Josh was a big supporter in the campaign) And now, a word from our president

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