October 31, 2009

Ayn Rand "kept going on amphetamines and willpower; the writing... was a 'drops-of-water-in-a-desert kind of torture.'"

"Rand labored for more than two years on Galt’s radio address near the end of 'Atlas Shrugged'... 'At one point, she stayed inside the apartment, working for 33 days in a row'...."

From a review — by TNR editor Adam Kirsch  — of "Ayn Rand and the World She Made." (Buy the book here — and make an automatic contribution, without paying extra, to this blog, on which I've worked for almost 6 years without a single day's break, kept going on amphetamines and willpower... or no, not amphetamines. Not even willpower. Just the love of writing... and coffee, surely, and — lately —  Meadamines.)

From the review:
When Bennett Cerf, a head of Random House, begged her to cut Galt’s speech, Rand replied with what Heller calls “a comment that became publishing legend”: “Would you cut the Bible?” One can imagine what Cerf thought — he had already told Rand plainly, “I find your political philosophy abhorrent” — but the strange thing is that Rand’s grandiosity turned out to be perfectly justified.

In fact, any editor certainly would cut the Bible, if an agent submitted it as a new work of fiction. But Cerf offered Rand an alternative: if she gave up 7 cents per copy in royalties, she could have the extra paper needed to print Galt’s oration. That she agreed is a sign of the great contradiction that haunts her writing and especially her life. Politically, Rand was committed to the idea that capitalism is the best form of social organization invented or conceivable.
Where is the contradiction? She gave up 7¢ for each copy sold, but did she not hope to sell more copies? And did she not see long term profit in promoting capitalism? Kirsh's point is that Rand was at heart an intellectual and not a capitalist:
... Rand had no more reverence for the actual businessmen she met than most intellectuals do. The problem was that, according to her own theories, the executives were supposed to be as creative and admirable as any artist or thinker. They were part of the fraternity of the gifted, whose strike, in “Atlas Shrugged,” brings the world to its knees.
Kirsh, like so many others — most of us Baby Boomers? — is, I think, deeply invested in the notion that businessmen are boring and uncreative. I've long had this image in my head. And this says it well:

125 comments:

Kirby Olson said...

Businessmen are poets of commerce. We need creative businessmen to keep the economy going. Putting limits on them via taxation is like laying censorship on poets.

If business thrives, everyone will thrive.

Business is the business of America, as our most poetic president said.

Skyler said...

As one who really admires her philosophy and tries to incorporate as much as possible into my own life, and as someone who has read everything she has written, I have to make one caveat.

I've never made it through John Galt's speech. I mean, come on, what's it for? It does nothing but duplicate the whole point of the book.

Bad call, Ayn.

And so were the drugs, if this otherwise slanderous accusation is true.

bagoh20 said...

Being a business man most of my life, I can tell you that for me the challenges are daily and the solutions require creativity, open- mindedness, smashing preconceptions, and doing it with passion and energy. And most importantly, you are challenged by similarly driven competitors, events, and murphy's law.

An artist on the other hand generally is only challenged buy his own mental blocks, which he can usually afford to commiserate with for long periods. This is fatal for the businessman.

In addition, in business the power of your creativity and quality of your work is constantly tested and measured.

The business equivalent for much of what passes for art would lead to starvation if it was normal in the business world. Piss Christ = the Yugo.

bagoh20 said...

Incidentally, my above comment is why I would much prefer to be an artist, but that is not the talent I was given.

pete-who said...

Being a businessman doesn't necessarily mean you're a fully committed capitalist. Example: George Soros.

The converse is also true: there are many capitalists who oppose big business.

peter hoh said...

If there's a contradiction, it's that in the case of her book, she didn't trust the wisdom of the market, as represented by Cerf's preference.

I'm not buying the contradiction, however, because the opinion of one agent in the market is not the same as the wisdom of the market.

bagoh20 said...

In business, like most things, becoming big usually destroys what was is best about a organization.

Alex said...

What's the difference between a Randroid and a hemorrhoid? The hemmorhoid goes away after a time.

hyuk, hyuk.

peter hoh said...

I'm not sure where I first stumbled upon this, but there has been nice discussion this past week about the difference between a pro-business approach and a pro-market approach.

Discussed here, here, and here. Original article.

Count me with those who are pro-market.

Alex said...

Being pro-market means the government not favoring a specific business. We have that problem in WA state with giving tax breaks to Boeing that no other business gets.

halojones-fan said...

I'm an engineer. I often hear "oh, you must like math, you must have taken lots of math in college, math is really important to you, math math math."

The most complicated math I've done since I graduated was some trigonometry, and all I had to do there was remember "SOH CAH TOA" and use my calculator. At least fifty percent of my work(*) is entirely artistic. I do a lot of spatial-relationship work to figure out how all the parts of something fit together. I create 3D models and produce attractive, informative screenshots of them; then I go create a blueprint and figure out what information needs to be on it. And all of this gets communicated to other engineers, to program management, to the machine shop, and to the guys on the floor bolting everything together.

A modern engineer is a graphic designer first and a communications major second. Math is a distant third.

(*) which, to be frank, is only about sixty percent of my JOB, the other forty percent being bureaucratic foolishness

Paul said...

"An artist on the other hand generally is only challenged buy his own mental blocks, which he can usually afford to commiserate with for long periods. This is fatal for the businessman."

While there may be a few exceptions...people who make garbage like "Piss Christ" and make a living....for the vast majority of us being an artist requires an enormous investment in time and energy and the competition is ferocious. It's much easier to succeed in the business world than the art world. Trust me.

former law student said...

We need creative businessmen to keep the economy going.

Lately America's creative businessmen have been focusing on keeping the Chinese economy going.

Tell your kids to learn plumbing and hair styling -- something not so easily outsourced.

Alex said...

halojones-fan - there are still hard-core algorithmic programmers who are busy writing the latest 3D render routines for "Call of Duty 5" or cryptography. What you're saying is you're an applications programmer that focuses on delivering features, leveraging algorithms for the lower level routines. Stuff like pre-written hashtables and the like.

Christopher said...

There is no contradiction. That's called "bargaining." The value of any object in capitalism is exactly how much an individual is willing to pay for it. Rand essentially agreed to pay that sum for the value she perceived in including the speech.

Alex said...

Lately America's creative businessmen have been focusing on keeping the Chinese economy going.

Apple Corp would beg to differ. Look at how innovative the iPhone is. Or look at home-grown Nucor Steel.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

"It's much easier to succeed in the business world than the art world. Trust me."

Actually, it's the business part of art that you are finding hard.

I'm talking about whether or not your creativity is really challenged, which I think it is more challenged in business.

In art, it's hard, but that's because the target is fuzzy and irrational. It's a combination of meeting the requirements of politics and just plain luck. Nobody really knows what good art is, but everyone knows a good product when they see it, and use it.

After thinking about it a little more, it seems there is plenty of room to succeed in either, while actually sucking creatively.

former law student said...

Lately America's creative businessmen have been focusing on keeping the Chinese economy going.

Apple Corp would beg to differ. Look at how innovative the iPhone is.

Innovative enough to invest a billion dollars in a new Chinese factory. Actually not even Apple itself, but Apple's Taiwanese subcontractor. From marketplace.com:

Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Ltd. /quotes/comstock/11i!hnhaf (HNHAF 4.00, +0.02, +0.54%) , is planning to build a $1 billion factory in China that could be a gearing up for the next generation of Apple products

Dogwood said...

Lately America's creative businessmen have been focusing on keeping the Chinese economy going.

Apple Corp would beg to differ. Look at how innovative the iPhone is. Or look at home-grown Nucor Steel.

The iPhone is manufactured in Asia, predominantly China and Taiwan. The design work, prototypes and programming are done mostly in California, but not the production.

Apple is not unique in that regard, though.

blake said...

but everyone knows a good product when they see it, and use it.

Ah, but isn't what Apple did with the iPhone and iPod in direct contradiction to that notion?

The iPod was particularly scorned; the iPhone supposed to have a trivial impact.

Turns out people will give up a degree of functionality for a degree of artistry.

Not exactly news, but a lesson that gets rediscovered from time to time.

Nora said...

I think one needs more creativity to create within the constraints like engineers, scientists, businessmen, etc. than for creating without any constraints, like artists do.

Also, the most successful, i.e reknowned, artists are usually those that are good businessmen/salesmen, which puts them in the group of creating within the constrains - business success.

Synova said...

There is no contradiction between capitalism and taking 7 cents less, or even with greed and taking 7 cents less.

I think that people spend more time tilting at windmills, at foes that exist only in their own minds, rather than what is actually in front of them.

Bissage said...

My fellow Althousians might be pleased to learn that I actually met Ayn Rand.

I was very impressed with her gifted intellect and regal bearing even though it was a few years before her death and time had robbed her of much of her vigor.

Still, she was a real crowd pleaser and I felt honored to be at that frat party where she hiked up her skirt and snapped the cap off a twelve ounce bottle of Coca-Cola using nothing but her vagina. Then she sat back in an easy chair and raised her ankles toward the ceiling and drank it down. Then she belched out a goodly portion of The Star Spangled Banner to enthusiastic applause.

Wow! I was completely smitten. She knew it, too, and soon she had me back at her hotel room where she laid down lines of crank that looked like white ferrets. She snorted them up like a Dyson and then she took off all her clothes and started jumping up and down on the bed. She made various wild animal noises and taunted me to come and get her. This made me feel very uncomfortable as she had already forced me to masturbate myself to orgasm using a lubricant of anchovy paste, crushed garlic and pine nuts.

Fortunately, she eventually caught a glimpse of herself in a full-length mirror. This gave me the time I needed to untie myself from the toilet and escape to blessed freedom.

I mean, fun’s fun and all, but let’s not get too carried away!

ricpic said...

The world is pretty much in the hands of the Bennett Cerfs. Always has been. Always will be. Doesn't mean you have to give in to the smug fatuous always wrong bastards. Sometimes, by fighting them every inch of the way, you can get a truth out into the world. Like Ayn Rand did.

Seneca the Younger said...

and — lately — Meadamines.

You guys are so cute.

Seneca the Younger said...

And so were the drugs, if this otherwise slanderous accusation is true.

Skyler, get a grip. This is when Benzedrine inhalers were an over-the-counter sinus remedy.

Paul said...

"In art, it's hard, but that's because the target is fuzzy and irrational. It's a combination of meeting the requirements of politics and just plain luck. Nobody really knows what good art is, but everyone knows a good product when they see it, and use it."

As musician I know first hand that people do in fact know good musicianship when they hear it. A good soloist will bring a crowd to it's feet.

It seems you have a very prejudiced and small view of art and the art world, and if you think a businessman is on the average more creative than the artist then you are simply deluded.

Skyler said...

Halojones,

There are all kinds of engineers. Some use a lot of math, some don't. All require creativity.

But our intelligentsia doesn't much understand creativity. To them, being creative is to put together "art" that bears little to distinguish itself from my 2 year old's scrawls and paint dawbings. Creativity to many is jazz that has long passed the point of being both atonal, arhythmical AND formulaic.

I always preferred "Old Horses Always Have Open Asses" to the mnemonic device you suggested.

I actually once had to use some substantial math to figure out heat transfer from a limestone dust heater.

But even if you don't have a PE license and don't actually need to calculate loads on bridges and other structures, the background in math is still pretty important to understanding how things work.

Howard said...

Water Bag Dude:

Successful selling artists are businessmen. Besides, the pro art gig is so f-ing hard that 99.99% fail. I seriously doubt you have the balls to be an artist, let alone a pro.

Art takes no natural talent but the guts to work hard and the ego to be self critical. That "I'd be an artist if I only had the talent" BS is pure pussy whining.

The Galt speech blows: he sounds like a rambling tweeker who won't STFU. For a great example of that genre, checkout Adam Goldberg in "The Salton Sea"

The engineer is spot on, the only math that is used you learned in Jr. High. Most of the work is doing a dance for some government slug.

Paul said...

"Creativity to many is jazz that has long passed the point of being both atonal, arhythmical AND formulaic. "

Jesus I have to stop reading these comments. The amount of ignorance here is infuriating. Why don't you people just stick to topics that you actually have firsthand, concrete knowledge of? You don't know a fucking thing about jazz and the state of it's evolution, or you wouldn't have made such a boneheaded comment.

Look I'm sure you're a smart guy and good at something so enlighten those of us who know less than you do in your field of expertise.

Everyone thinks they're an expert in music. I got news for ya. You ain't.

Cedarford said...

Message of revalations that Ayn Rand wrote much of Altas Shrugged meth'd out of her brains, that Islamoids high on speed and God take several shots and keep on coming? That Andre Agassi was a meth-head for several of his winning years before he had to "recalibrate"?

Maybe methadrine isn't so bad.

It makes us better thinkers, warriors, better able to compete on tennis courts or against China.

Maybe the key to America's inability to get anything done would be Meth in the drinking water piped into Congress, the courts, and White House.

Kirk Parker said...

Bissage,

Wow, just wow. I know your piece here is a completely different genre, but really you've just equalled Trooper at his best!

Revenant said...

"Capitalist" does not mean "obsessed with making as much money as possible".

caplight said...

"Meadamines." Adorable.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Bissage - carpet or linoleum?

mariner said...

"Capitalist" does not mean "obsessed with making as much money as possible".

I'll add, "... whatever it takes."

Unfortunately many who read Atlas Shrugged as college students believe it means exactly that.

Skyler said...

Paul, your comments are absurd considering that I studied music and jazz for many years. I'll defer to no one in my ability to appreciate music. Take your snobbishness elsewhere.

former law student said...

many who read Atlas Shrugged as college students

who the hell had time in college to read Atlas Shrugged?

The target audience had to have been 14 year old virgins.

knox said...

You don't know a fucking thing about jazz and the state of it's evolution

LMAO!!!!

When you're done, do tell us about your latest poetry slam!

bagoh20 said...

"It seems you have a very prejudiced and small view of art and the art world, and if you think a businessman is on the average more creative than the artist then you are simply deluded."


How often in art (music for instance), is the thing done in a way completely different from how it was ever done before? It's still the same thing with small variations. It does not create a new world.

By creativity, this is what I'm talking about. And by business, I'm including technology since that's where it generally takes place. It creates a new worlds almost unimaginable a few years earlier. This then even expands art with new mediums.

daubiere said...

the "dichotomy" between art & business is a false one. before the silly romantic notion of the artist took hold artists were expected to be good businesspeople.

peter said...

Kirsch's review is truly horrible. He argues that Ayn Rand was an intellectual and not a businessman and then doesn't tell us anything about her philosophy. One suspects that Kirsch has not read any Ayn Rand, and instead just read the lightweight reviews that have appeared recently. Truly disappointing.

richard mcenroe said...

The business part of art, when I worked as a literary agent, interfered with my own art in the sense that the energy and emotion I invested in my clients' books seemed to come from the same place as the energy I needed for my own work.

TosaGuy said...

"the executives were supposed to be as creative and admirable as any artist or thinker"

Why is this d-bag assuming that artists and thinkers are admirable and creative? There are many contemptable artists and lots of successful non-creative ones.

The ratios of types of people are pretty much the same in any field.


I also don't get this artist worship thing. The reviewer insinuates that artists/creative types are simply the best type of people. That is crap, just like the best type of people are not science types.

The best types are actually a hybrid between the two.

Back to Rand, her books are filled with contemptable businessmen. The types that use gov't to get what they want...we have plenty of those running GE, AIG, Goldman Sachs, etc.

mariner said...

formerlawstudent:
who the hell had time in college to read Atlas Shrugged?

I did, and I was turned on to it by another student. (Neither of us were 14, or virgins.)

In fact, my impression was that college students were about the only market for Rand.

bagoh20 said...

"Why don't you people just stick to topics that you actually have firsthand, concrete knowledge of?"

That would be a damn novel blog idea.

skittly wow, man.

Peter said...

Formor Law Student, it is not business that decided to place all these new factories in China, Thailand and assorted other counties. It was governments. It was the fear of emissions, the horror of traffic, the idiot taxes and wage laws.

The businessman would far prefer to step out of his office, go down the hall and talk to the guy running the lathe or the gal working the sodering iron about a sudden, needed change in plans.

sorry, it was all those governments that chased the factories overseas. Along with, of course, the NIMBY idiots running to governments to keep the factories away, those same idiots now crying "where are the jobs?"

tbrosz said...

It would be great if some of the people writing about Ayn Rand had ever actually read her books.

"Contradiction?" Not to put too fine a point on it, but the entire book Atlas Shrugged was about capitalists giving up wealth for their values.

Michael said...

I am a businessman with a masters in
English. Rand is a terrible writer and not so great thinker. I prefer the stoics personally.

I taught for a number of years in the University and, with my colleagues, abhorred business and businessmen. Alas, I had a chance to join the dark side and I took that chance only to discover that the backbiting and politics in business is half of that in the academy. I was surprised to find that many of the best people I have worked with through the years have very very good liberal educations, are very well read and often have gifts in the arts and music. It is depressing to recall the animus we held to businessmen and to recognize it in the current president. Stereotypes are far more prevalent in the "liberal" university than in business. In business it is best to make up one's mind after a bit of investigation.

blake said...

How often in art (music for instance), is the thing done in a way completely different from how it was ever done before?

Very rarely, just as it's rare for anyone anywhere (even businessmen) to do anything completely different.

The artist is at a disadvantage in some senses to do something completely novel, because to do so would leave him without an audience. (I could write, e.g., novel poetry using a newly constructed language combined with musical tones and other sounds that might surpass anything in existence, but no one could understand it.)

So, the artist must struggle: The more original he is, the more he alienates his audience. The very genesis of "ahead of his time"--assuming "his time" ever comes.

The innovator in business—well, at some point, the caveman struggling to explain the wheel + axle, could build the wheel + axle and say "See?"

Two points of interest: First, an artist may have dreamed of the wheel, and an engineer may have seen it. It may have been an artist who imagined the engineer.

Second, the artist who dreams of the helicopter in the Middle Ages might be suspected of witchcraft. But if the dream survives, it can fuel progress.

It seems to me that a lot of scientist and engineers have been inspired by "Star Trek", modest and derivative though it be.

It's still the same thing with small variations. It does not create a new world.

I'm not so sure. It can, without a doubt, change the look of the world.

The Ghost said...

While he may not have a clue about business, I think his overall point about Rand's idea on human nature is valid. Her grasp of economic incentives is impeccable - the only novelist I've ever read that could be said about - but her world and the people in it simply do not exist, not even (if reports be believed) among her and her cadre of friends. In the real world, selfishness and goodness (defined by anyone, even Objectivists) do not closely correlate, and nobody grows to the heights of Rearden et al without suckling the public tit. In short, she has the formula right but her numbers are wrong.

Lost in this is the fact that the editor was right. If the speech was a plot twist in a less preachy novel, it would have been a nice climax, but after a thousand or so pages, I left 35 of Galt's unread.

M.E. said...

Kirby -- you are right.

Ann -- Based on my previous experience as adjunct faculty at a university, I think that perhaps most academics find businessmen boring, but most of us Baby Boomers are not in academia. Most Boomers are in business of some kind or another.

Anyone who ever had a job in business knows the high level of creativity, synthesis, resolve, courage, intuition, and empathy that it takes to be a successful business person.

While I believe that the arts are -- or should be -- the highest expression of the human spirit, I actually find most modern artists to be dull pedants with an ax to grind.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Tell your kids to learn plumbing and hair styling -- something not so easily outsourced.

True story. My husband's business is plumbing, pumps, wells, water systems. He is busier than ever. You can't outsource these services. Also you can't outsource the local mechanic, the carpenter .. etc. The U.S. is becoming a service based economy which makes the industrial unions more and more irrelevant.

who the hell had time in college to read Atlas Shrugged?

The target audience had to have been 14 year old virgins.


Hey!!! I read Atlas Shrugged in junior high. /wink

Of course I was always good at skimming for content and as a result skipped over a lot of the tedious boring verbiage.

Ayn Rand was a terrible writer with some very good thoughts and a philosophy that I entirely agree with.

John Lynch said...

Ayn Rand hated religion, but acted like a cult leader. She hated academics but wrote like one.

Lots of people have cognitive dissonance. Hers was just on public display.

John Lynch said...

I have a theory about Atlas Shrugged. It's really not any different than Rand's other writing in terms of content. It's just really long. A lot of people who read the whole thing feel like they've accomplished something, like getting through 1000 pages of Rand is in and of itself an indication of intelligence.

I read it, and almost everything else she published. It's not really that great a book. It is longer, substituting physical heft for intellectual depth. I really, really don't like the idea that people should let society collapse because they don't like the government. That's extremely short sighted. Building a new society on the ashes of the old is revolution, and those don't turn out well. That's why Atlas Shrugged ended when it did.

Rand was definitely the #1 purveyor of libertarian ideas in the last century. Her real impact wasn't as a philosopher but as a popularizer of libertarian ideas. She took an academic, elite idea and brought it to the masses. Before Rand, libertarian ideas were confined to people like Hayek who no one read.

Christy said...

The target audience had to have been 14 year old virgins.

My clique read it when we were 15 year old virgins. I never read the entire John Galt speech, however, and was secretly ashamed until I was 30. By then I didn't entirely trust Randians. Still, I consider myself a libertarian. Such confusion.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I really, really don't like the idea that people should let society collapse because they don't like the government. That's extremely short sighted.

As I understood it.....It wasn't that people don't like the 'government'. It was more as if society and the people had become willing dupes of government control. The leeches and those who un-do, those who drag down the productive, chains on the heels of those who would make and do things.

Ayn Rand's philosophy also had to do with human character. There are those who are builders, entrepreneurs....the makers. Then there are those who are the opposite.

If collapse is what it takes to force society to be cleansed...then so be it.

If you can't salvage what is there. If there is no personal integrity. If you can't make it work. Scrap it and start over.

former law student said...

Peter said...
Formor Law Student, it is not business that decided to place all these new factories in China, Thailand and assorted other counties. It was governments. It was the fear of emissions, the horror of traffic, the idiot taxes and wage laws.

The role of James Taggart -- abdicating all responsibility for his business decisions -- will be played by Peter.

kcom said...

I read "Atlas Shrugged" while I was in the Peace Corps. That was an opportunity for some firsthand observance.

If you want to see what your world would look like without the high quality work of numerous businessmen who care about their surroundings and add value to society I'll take you to where I lived then. If you do nothing more than pick a job and do it well then you've made your contribution to a better society. It doesn't take a bunch of charity workers to make society right, it takes a bunch of people leading productive lives. There isn't enough charity in the world to cover for a system that rewards incompetence and denigrates hard-working business people. It's folly to go down that path.

Alex said...

FLS - Surely there's enough room between spending $0 and $3.5 trillion in the federal budget. I don't think anyone here is proposing to spend $0. So you should really stop it with the straw men. Do you understand that it really enrages libertarians when you accuse us of wanting to abolish the government?

Hugh said...

How many (number > 0) do you know?

Paul Zrimsek said...

If businessmen are such artists how come you never hear about one getting an NEA grant for a gold dollar sign in a jar of urine?

Alex said...

FLS - is any businessman obligated to continue working for the benefit of society? What you seem to advocate is slave labor.

former law student said...

Do you understand that it really enrages libertarians when you accuse us of wanting to abolish the government?

Wha'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

What you seem to advocate is slave labor.

What I advocate is taking responsibility for one's own acts, not passively attributing responsibility to outside forces.

Alex said...

FLS - I haven't read Atlas Shrugged, so I'm not really sure what Taggart did or didn't do. But I do get the gist of John Galt and the idea of "going Galt" is quite appealing to me if I had the assets.

former law student said...

I haven't read Atlas Shrugged

And yet you're commenting here?

Well, there are alternate paths. Have you read Hayek, Friedman, or Heinlein?

Alex said...

FLS - I've read "Free to Choose" and "Stranger in a strange land".

Mark said...

"Tell your kids to learn plumbing and hair styling -- something not so easily outsourced."

While I plan to instill a respect for abstract intellectual skills as ends unto themselves, I actually do want to see them pick up some physical skills along the way. (Welding, joinery, agricultural skills, something) simply because the disconnect between the abstract and the concrete catches a lot of kids upside the head at very bad moments in their lives.

No offense to our hostess, but when our society starts respecting the skills of the welder as much as it respects the skills of the lawyer is when we won't have to worry about outsourcing jobs.

It would also mean a lower number of lawyers in general, which would be no bad thing.

Kevin said...

Some insightful comments here, to which I hope this is an addition.

Part of the problem is the dang English majors in the media and Hollywood. There are three classes of human being always depicted as evil in novels and films (and, increasingly, newspapers, whose writers share the commitment to accuracy of novelists and screenwriters):

1. Businessmen

2. Scientists and engineers

3. Military officers.

They are generally shallow stereotypes: driven by greed, self-aggrandizing narcissism, and bloodlust respectively. Lame and old, these stereotypes: Scrooge, Frankenstein and Kurtz were their 19th-century prototypes and they've undergone no jot or tittle of character development since.

(If you like Dickens, his Dombey is that rarest of things, a three-dimensional fictional businessman).

I have been fortunate enough to know many in each category and am better for the experience, with not a greedhead, mad scientist, or incipient caudillo among them.

And who those same shallow entertainers hold up before us as their vision of our role models? Politicians. Lawyers. Journalists. The most disrespected, and deservedly so, classes from the standpoint of productive people.

As one of the insightful commenters noted, revolutions, however beloved by the patchouli-reeking Lost Souls of the Woodstock generation, usually come to a bad end. So I shan't call for one. But I have opted out of television, movies, and most modern novels.

And what is that beastly clangor that some unibrowed Neanderthal with a stack of postnominal letters calls "Jazz?" Or worse yet, the broken squelches and dog-whistles of so-called "modern classical music?" When you're too educated to tell the difference between syncopated and spastic, it's time to step away from the piano and go with the nice men in the white coats.

Alex said...

Kevin - not if you watch John Milius films like "Conan the Barbarian". He's one of the few in Hollywood who has put military type folks up on a pedestal.

Alex said...

Mark - I do have a healthy respect for manufacturing-type folks. Because without them, us engineers would be shit creek when it comes to actually putting the products together physically and realizing revenue.

former law student said...

OK Alex qualifies under two of the official alternate paths. He does not have to turn in his "Certified Althouse Commenter" pin. (It's a self-certification, obviously.)

Alex said...

FLS - only in your fevered mind do we have any certifications around here. Grow up already.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Mark - I do have a healthy respect for manufacturing-type folks. Because without them, us engineers would be shit creek when it comes to actually putting the products together physically and realizing revenue.

All brain...no gain?

:-D

William said...

A previous post about a Dylan concert inspired some lyrical observations about the Apple Iphone. I don't think Dylan will ever write another song that makes one feel the wonder and dazzle of being alive in the universe, but Steve Jobs will probably come up with some killer ap that is consistent with our ability to feel awe. At the present time, I would put Jobs ahead of Dylan as an artist.......I had a small business for a few years. It took a certain amount of low animal cunning to deal with the various challenges, but none of it involved the higher factulties. It wasn't atrophying or brutalizing or anything awful, but if you feel, as I do, that work sucks there is nothing about the experience of managing a small business to shake that opinion....Bissage: Sounds like you were punked by Lillian Hellman. In her later years, Lillian would pretend to be Ayn Rand because she felt that Ayn got to shag better looking college kids. Who could even tell those opinionated old hags apart? In any event, quite a lot of young Republicans woke up in the morning to discover that they had signed some Stalinist petition demanding that the US sink the 7th Fleet in order to further world peace. It was a cruel joke, but that's the kind of person she was.

Fat Man said...

Wallace Stevens, Charles Ives, and Benjamin Whorf. And that is just the insurance business.

Alex said...

DBQ - those are fighting words!

Alex said...

William - that's pretty interesting what you just said about Steve Jobs being a better artist then Bob Dylan. But most of society does not see it that way.

SH said...

They push the same meme about engineers. Its equally bogus… they just like to create things that DO STUFF…

Alex said...

They push the same meme about engineers. Its equally bogus… they just like to create things that DO STUFF…

And that's what gives me the daily satisfaction of my work... I have to produce code that WORKs.

SH said...

pete-who said...

"Being a businessman doesn't necessarily mean you're a fully committed capitalist. Example: George Soros."

Isnt he just a speculator? Does he run a buisness that makes products?

The Crack Emcee said...

"The strange thing is that Rand’s grandiosity turned out to be perfectly justified."

I love that line. Just the idea of it: redemption.

You watch: dissing certain people (that would be those of us who are certain) will always come back to bite the conventional lamers on the ass.

former law student said...

hey Alex...

Lighten up!

sheesh, conservatives. they have senses of humor but you need at least a 10X magnifier to find 'em.

Alex said...

FLS - I'm not a conservative. But I guess to you all libertarians are?

Alex said...

FLS - that's rich. Instead of lecturing us about not having a sense of humor, maybe you should tell it to AlphaLiberal, Michael and LE Lee.

Henry said...

The most boring and uncreative thing in the world is what's on television.

It's very easy to confuse shininess with creativity.

Alex said...

The most interesting creative stuff is happening in engineering departments across the world. Except you only know about it when a new product comes out like the Motorola Droid.

kynefski said...

Kirsh, like so many others — most of us Baby Boomers? — is, I think, deeply invested in the notion that businessmen are boring and uncreative.

That doesn't sound right to me. Maybe in some quarters, but most of us thought (and think) of business as more real than whatever it is we do. Hence the tremendous levels of corruption among professionals.

That doctor shilling for the drug company wasn't tempted by the money. She liked the idea of being part of a business deal.

bagoh20 said...

This needs repeated, by kcom@8:21 :

"
If you want to see what your world would look like without the high quality work of numerous businessmen who care about their surroundings and add value to society I'll take you to where I lived then. If you do nothing more than pick a job and do it well then you've made your contribution to a better society. It doesn't take a bunch of charity workers to make society right, it takes a bunch of people leading productive lives. There isn't enough charity in the world to cover for a system that rewards incompetence and denigrates hard-working business people. It's folly to go down that path."


Exactly.

bagoh20 said...

The kind of people Rand extols as heroes would generally not sacrifice the time to read a novel like Atlas Shrugged. It just takes too long in the scheme of things. This is something only non-producers have time for.

flame on...

former law student said...

bago: that's why dbq and I read it in early adolescence. At that age, you have time to kill, and you want to be sophisticated. Both of these lend themselves to reading 1000 page books.

Skyler said...

kcom and Kevin have the best posts.

FLS, get off the internet and read some books. Education isn't something you get from law school. It comes from a life of reading books that challenge and inform.

Maybe you don't like Ayn Rand's writing, but I guarantee you that there are plenty of other ideas that can't be treated well in under 1000 pages.

wv: I am not kidding: randin

knox said...

I also love what kcom said.

It doesn't take a bunch of charity workers to make society right, it takes a bunch of people leading productive lives.

Yes, yes, yes.

knox said...

Kevin,

Unfortunately, the easiest way to be considered "Important" as an artist is to mine the very stereotypes and subject matter you refer to.

They are tired and cliched to us--but most of the decision-makers in the publishing world and in Hollywood still consider them valid and fresh.

I don't really read much recent fiction anymore, unless it's genre fiction. Same with movies.

Synova said...

"I really, really don't like the idea that people should let society collapse because they don't like the government."

I think that Rand really, really didn't like the idea that people should be expected to hold society up no matter how they are abused. When I skim/flipped through Atlas Shrugged this is what really impressed me, and I thought... people don't really think that way.

But they do.

Those productive people, the business persons, were motivated to create wealth, to build their industries, and that would benefit society. But society said... your motivation is wrong. Wanting to profit is wrong. You're supposed to want something else. You're supposed to want to be altruistic. And simutaneously, while those industrialists were vilified, they were told that they were supposed to hold up the world.

Should those who produce wealth and create a better quality of life keep holding up the world when they are vilified and stolen from? Maybe they should. But it would be *moral* if they did not, if they refused anymore to let themselves be used that way.

Largo said...

And that's what gives me the daily satisfaction of my work... I have to produce code that WORKs.

As a programmer myself Alex, I can appreciate that satisfaction.

I have just started reading Atlas Shrugged, now on the fifth chapter. The discription of Hand Reardon at the first heat of the first production of Reardon Metal struck me the same way. The metal pouring into the label was, as it were, code that is passing all its unit tests, and now its integration tests.

His history prior to that: building the businesses Reardon Ore, Reardon Cole, not ad hoc unrelated business (cf Virgin), but business that work together in an integrated way for production. Source control and supply chain management. Work that requires though. Even if one is not the business owner, a system of supply management -- a living process as it were, not static but responding to contingencies -- is itself a product, a work of art, something to be proud of. Not unlike the developing of working code.

(I mean not to knock Virgin here. To manage a brand, to extend it, to have one's hands in a variety of disconnected enterprises for the joy of being able to is also a productive task, with a product worthy of pride. I would say that Branson is an entrepreuner because his chief purpose in life is to be an entrepreneur, to extend his label into various ventures; while Hank Reardon is an entrepreneur because his chief purpose in life is to produce metal. His entrepreneurship is tied in with metallurgy, not brand development.

Different temperaments, different drives, but both driven by what Rand would call a morally correct selfish commitment to thrive.)

Penny said...

"Should those who produce wealth and create a better quality of life keep holding up the world when they are vilified and stolen from?"

Yes. And that is a resounding YES.

The above group suffers from a lack of desire to INFORM the masses. Glenn Beck, for good or nonsense, is trying to do a bit of it, but come on!

When those who create wealth forget the last step in a very long process, shame on them! The last step is to "manage their image" for cripes sake, and they are failing miserably at doing so.

A nation as great as ours is should be hell bent on educating anything that fucking moves, let alone has the ability to vote.

If we need to do that with our old pals, Dick and Jane, even better! Those names are still appearing on our lawsuits, with their last name, DOE. DOUGH!

Finish your task, wealth creators! And whatever you do, do NOT tell me that you are waiting for the government to lead in educating people. You KNOW better.

Largo said...

And so were the drugs, if this otherwise slanderous accusation is true.

I am not sure what you meant by the sentence fragment "And so were the drugs", thought I think you meant it as in saying her [purported] use of drugs was a "bad call".

If so, would you also say the same about her drinking lots of coffee to get through the work?

I accept there could be reasons for differences: legality, relative potential for addiction, etc. But as one who thinks many drugs could be used (circumspectly) for particular productve purposes, I am curious as to your take on anphetamines here.

Penny said...

And as for whether the artist or the businessman is more creative?

Take your lemons elsewhere.

You all sounded like kids arguing about who mom and dad loved best.

Come back when you work out a way to bring the world some lemonade, and at a profit!

And PS...Don't forget the last leg of that business plan. ;) It would be a shame to come so far and fail so miserably.

Penny said...

Sorry I was yelling. I know that doesn't make you hear any better.

Largo said...

On "Letting society collapse"

Is it moral? Well, what is the meaning of collapse here?

@John Lynch and others:

I have only started Atlas Shrugged, and have not read what ended the strike. But was it not when the lights of the city went out? That can symbolize many things, but it does not suggest to me that society outside the Gultch was reduced to "ashes". The physical infrastructure was decayed and decrepit, but could be set in good shape again, provided the economic decisions to this end were made rationally, not out of "altruistic" motives.

E.g. stop throwing good money after bad by maintaining the San Sebastian rail line (done for the sake of under-privilaged Mexico, notwithstanding that Mexico was producing no goods that would benefit from that line), and invest it in the under-maintained Rio Norte line (which had been denied funding out of spite that the producers at the end of that line, and needed to use that line, were "oversuccessful".

I have not gotten far into the book yet, but by page twelve this is beginning to be revealed.

The strike ends when the lesson is learned. I think this happens long before those not on strike need to resort to eating their children to survive!

Bruce Hayden said...

My thoughts right now are that the reason that Rand is so popular is that she is, to some extent, an anti-Obama. A lot of people laughed it off when he said he was going to spread the wealth around, voted for him, and found out that he indeed intend to take their money and give it to his friends.

Obama's spreading the wealth around essentially depends on the willingness of the productive sector allowing the fruits of their labors be stolen from them to aggrandize those in power and given to those who are not as productive as a bribe for voting for them (Harry Reid had an ad on tonight extolling how much pork he has brought back to Nevada).

So, one question is how long do those who create wealth continue to support this? At what point do they become willing dupes?

One thing that has always bothered me is that this country was founded by revolution, throwing off the chains of oppression. And, one of the precepts is that government is by the consent of the governed.

But what happens when the government becomes so corrupt that it manages to bribe enough of the people that it becomes entrenched? We are now nearing 50% of the population here who don't pay federal income taxes, and for them, raising income taxes to pay for more spending is just fine, since they won't be paying any more taxes.

At one time, the answer was to pick up and move somewhere where the government was of the people and by the people, and not of the elites for the elites. But where do you go now? Most of the rest of the world is worse than what we have here.

Largo said...

A response to Penny, and some general points.

@Penny

I appreciate your comment, "finish your task, wealth creators!"

I need to qualify it though. At what point does it become a hopeless task?

There is an aversion the producers have to explaining this at all. James Taggart was known for "his gift of 'making railroads popular,' his 'good press', his 'Washington ability.'" Dagany Taggart "knew nothing about the field of 'Washington ability' or what what such an ability required."

Dagny and Hank Reardon lacked the insight into what made other people tick, and to have to spend time away from the creative work of processing ore or running a railway was not attractive to them at all. Dagny saw there was something important about it, but thankfully James was the man to handle that.

It turns out that it is not a situation of James "finishing the task" by educating Washington. James himself is driven by the desire to "help Mexico" and his resentment of producers who are "too productive". He is the one who needs to be taught by Dagny.

Has Dagny been negligent in "[doing] her task?" She tries to convince James again... and again... and again... ... and again! ... that what he is doing is wrong, why it is wrong, how he needs to make decisions and accept responsibility for them.

The "adversary" she was trying to fight was not honest ignorance in need of instruction. Nor did she face opposition in the form of one who says we should not do it that way, but this way, being clear what this is, and putting a personal stake in it.

Instead, her adversary was "ineptitude--a gray spread of cotton that seemed soft and shapeless, that could offer no resistance to anything or anybody, yet remained a barrier in her way. She stood, disarmed, before the riddle of what made this impossible. She could find no answer."

[It needs to be said that "ineptitude" here refers not to absence of genius, but absence of competence, an unseriousness, a lack of choice to be competent. The lowly status of a pipe-fitter does not make a pipe-fitter inept at pipe-fitting. But James Taggart is inept at residing over a railway.]

[It needs to be stressed that the strike was not a strike of the "geniuses of industry". It was a strike of those who were finding themselves less and less able to exercise competence. Most of the people who joined Galt were "pipe-fitters" rather than "captains of industry".]

But back to the point. Dagny tried to get through to James. Hank Reardon tried to get through to his wife and family. Those to be persuaded would not be persuaded. There was a deep social disfunction involving refusal to take responsibily, and perverse economic decisions driven by a perverse and intransigent view of what responsibility was for.

"Finish your task, wealth creators!" Well, the task may have been performed better. I think Hank should have kept his social promises to meet his family for dinner, or not have made them at all. He might then have more of a hearing from them on the moral issues.

But the question I raise is whether society had reached a point where the task was no longer possible. Or, if the task was to educate, the point had been reached where a general strike of productivity was the only means of education. Perhaps the strike was the finishing of the task.

Kev said...

I can only say, "Hear, hear!" to all those who are speaking to the importance of the productive class; the biggest problem that a lot of us out here have with the current band of idiots in Washington is their apparent hostility to the productive class, while openly courting the non-productive class and its seamy subsidiary, the parasite class. These two must fall, and the productive class must rise (and yes, I fear that this is a zero-sum game) for our nation to flourish again. I'd like for voters to rise up and send every incumbent home in the next elections, but I don't trust them to do that; I fear more drastic measures may have to take place for this goal to be attained.

Kev said...

One more thing--as one of the resident jazz musicians on this blog, I have to ask: Why all the hate towards us on this thread? There's a lot more to modern jazz than Ornette Coleman, which sounds like what everyone is describing above.

And if you guys get to be snobby, then I do too:

fter thinking about it a little more, it seems there is plenty of room to succeed in either, while actually sucking creatively.

Many jazz musicians would call this guy Exhibit A in support of the above statement.

wv: shipl. A seagoing vessel that's bigger than a boatl.

Penny said...

Loaded questions, Largo.

The good news is that the USA is much better off than the rest of the world. The bad news is that we have never been in worse shape than we are today.

As I was typing that, it reminded me of flying for some reason. My mind wanders sometimes. lol

You know how you get on board the plane, and then the flight attendants start with their usual, rote messages that we all tune out because we heard it a hundred times before?

Well one day, I chose to REALLY listen to the message, and not care so much who was delivering it.

"In an emergency, the oxygen masks will descend. It is important that you take care of your needs first, and then the needs of your children."

I don't even have any kids, but that message just seemed TOTALLY counter intuitive to my emotional response.

Good humans, strong adults, most certainly would take care of kids, who OBTW, didn't have a dangling oxygen mask in front of their face.

Would they? Should they?

I can't tell you what to take away from my story, but I can tell you what I took away...that ONE day. And I have never forgotten it.

You need to "take care of yourself first", so that you are BETTER able to take care of others.

It's not a rote message, and it surely isn't an emotionally laden message. It's crisp, it's clear, it's objective.

Counter-intuitive or not, it works today as it always has...UP THERE, where, like it or not, we rarely have less control.

Something to think about.

Oligonicella said...

Penny --

"Should those who produce wealth and create a better quality of life keep holding up the world when they are vilified and stolen from?"

Yes. And that is a resounding YES.

The above group suffers from a lack of desire to INFORM the masses.


Inform them what, Penny? If by that you actually mean educate (as in provide education), they already do that to the sums of millions of dollars. Like most spouting that line, you seem unaware of the things they do that they don't seek publicity for.

You want people to keep working when they are stolen from (by those same masses)? Bullshit. Parasites are to be plucked from the body and composted.

Oligonicella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freder Frederson said...

As one who really admires her philosophy and tries to incorporate as much as possible into my own life

How on earth can you believe this and be in the freaking military?

Skyler said...

Kev, please don't think I was denigrating all jazz. Jazz is a very wide genre. But there is a lot of it that is formulaic that has airs of being creative.

Freder, have you read the book? Is there anything in Rand's writing that says the military is an immoral profession?

The military might not create wealth, but it does its part to protect it and those that seek to create it. The military needs principled people too.

Largo said...

Penny,

I am in no state at this moment to review what I said in light of what you just said (I often take sedatives to sleep and I am feeling a bit too fine right now - heh) but I do want to say that when I said:

"""But the question I raise is whether society had reached a point where the task was no longer possible. """

when saying that, I was referring to the society in Atlas Shrugged, not contemporary American society.

Cordially.

wv: "ovens" hmm...

kentuckyliz said...

Re Asia and offshoring jobs:

Business must seek efficiencies to remain profitable and competitive--to even survive.

Business didn't offshore jobs solely due to regulations and environmental whackos.

American labor comparatively overpriced in the global labor market!

Communications technology/IT making it possible!

Alex, when I ordered my iPods from the Apple website, it shipped from Shanghai, China. Very entertaining to read the shipping tracker on the FedEx website.

So if American labor focuses on the hands-on nonoffshorable jobs, they also see business seeking efficiency with labor costs at home--illegals.

I am waiting to bid on the fatcat jobs at the top that never seem to go into the open market. Funny that.

Johnny1A said...

"Kirsh, like so many others — most of us Baby Boomers? — is, I think, deeply invested in the notion that businessmen are boring and uncreative. "

The problem for many people who dislike businessmen (and hard scientists and serious accountants for that matter) is that the nature of their work rubs against a desperate desire that can never be satisfied.

Businessmen often pride themselves on the fact that _their_ creativity has to be tested against market forces, but that's the problem for their critics. There are certain more-or-less constants in business, just as the laws of nature don't change on any human scale (we're sometimes mistaken about what those rules are, but they are what they are), and it's precisely the things that don't change that rub the critics the wrong way.

To a person dreaming of changing the world, the message from the businessman or fiscal hardliner is always, or so it seems to them, "You can't afford it. How do you pay for it? There's not enough money."

To a person who dreams of 500 mpg cars, or personal jet packs, or whatever, the message from the hard scientist/engineer is always "You can't do it. Not enough energy in a given mass of fuel, materials can't handle the temperatre, etc."

From the point of view of the dreamer, business and science seems like one long line of comments about why the dreams can't come true. Which is of course true of most dreams.

That doesn't make them right, but it does mean that they instinctively tend to dislike these party-poopers.

Heck, sometimes the businessmen and the science/engineering types dislike _each other_ for the exact same reasons.

rogerzim said...

What Rand did here was simply remain true to her artistic vision. On her moral terms, she was being fully selfish, meaning (roughly - its much more complex than this) that she was acting to pursue the more valued alternative available under the circumstances.

True, under the modern linguistic conventions, her actions might be deemed "self-less" or anti-capitalistic. But, to Rand, this was a corruption of language. She held that "selfish" meant only "concerned primarily with ones own interests". Of course, she argued that this was the well-spring of all moral good.

Indeed, for an example of precisely this behavior in her writing, see The Fountainhead where Roark declines a commission that he needed (for economic reasons) because the contract would have had him compromise his design. When asked why he was sacrificing himself in that way, Roark replied: "That was the most selfish thing you'll ever see a man do".

Synova said...

"When those who create wealth forget the last step in a very long process, shame on them! The last step is to "manage their image" for cripes sake, and they are failing miserably at doing so."

This sounds an awful lot like blaming the victim of abuse... but it was your own fault because you didn't do... whatever. You wouldn't get beaten if only you didn't burn dinner.

But more importantly, really... who is responsible for their own attitudes? Are the wealth creators and businessmen in Venezuela responsible for what is inside Chavez's head? Are they responsible for the fact that the *people* in Venezuela were convinced that Chavez was "for the people" and that the wealthy were parasites? And who is responsible now... the wealth creators did not "go Galt" they were shut down by others who willfully ignore what motivates people in favor of a world-view in which Chavez is "for" the poor and "for" the people and going to nationalize any industry, any dairy farm, *anything* not perceived to be working for the public good... and what has happened? Well managed farm land is being taken from people and put into "production" but there is not more food. Electric production, nationalized by Chavez, is poorly managed and black-outs are increasingly common.

Who is responsible?

Producers for not taking care of that last step of *education*?

No.

People, individuals, are responsible. No one else. Chavez is responsible for his own misconceptions, his own avarice and ambition... his own delusion that somehow he can make work what has never worked before in the History of the World.

The poor people living in the villages in Venezuela are responsible for believing what they were told, for liking the pleasant lies, for not *thinking* and realizing that nothing government does is *ever* efficient. THEY are responsible for voting for Chavez and his pretty lies. No one else.

In the United States, the people buying into the vilification of industry and business, of doctors and pharmaceutical companies, of insurance providers, of lenders and Levi factories and automobile plants... THEY are responsible for their own beliefs... no one else. They are responsible for believing the pretty lie that industry is made up of horrible people who don't pay more wages and give better benefits for no other reason than that they are evil. They're responsible for believing that when their shop organizes and demands better wages and makes business impossible that the work is moved overseas for *spite*.

People are responsible for their own delusions, for not thinking things through, for not trying to understand the financial realities that require any business to be profitable.

If, like in Venezuela, they vote in someone like Chavez, they are responsible for the misery that follows. NOT the producers who failed to educate them.

If in the United States we enact policies that punish industry for being profitable and punish executives who are compensated "too much" and dis-incentivize production and profit at levels we find unseemly... then WE deserve what we get.

Complaining that we weren't *educated* properly, or that government and schools controlled by liberals are teaching us how much more wonderful it is to volunteer or go into people sorts of advocacy non-profit careers, well then SHAME ON US.

Because we deserve what we get.

Alex said...

Synova - while you are correct about who is truly responsible that is little consolation for me when the neo-socialists put the noose around my neck in 2025. My last words will be "Go Galt!"...

Synova said...

Alex,

That is why there is NO triumphalism in watching Chavez destroy Venesuela or Zelaya try to take over Honduras and make it in Venesuala's image or Ortega become presidente for life of Nicaragua.

There is no... look! look! See, I was right, Bwa ha ha ha!... involved in watching human tragedy.

No matter who is at fault.

Synova said...

Venesuela

Bleh.

Venezuela. I don't know why my fingers want to do that.

Synova said...

And I can't say how many times I've heard (read) people who are presumably not idiots saying that perhaps the market was important *before* to get us here, but we're past that now, and there is no excuse to depend on the market and no excuse not to set up a *better* system.

They are intelligent people.

Should they be excused because someone *else* encouraged them to be idiots?

Alex said...

Synova - I firmly believe America will need to have a huge upheavel where the producers decided enough is enough and "go Galt", leading to huge bloodshed. Maybe 150 million dead by the time it's over. We simply can't sustain this farce.

Largo said...

May I tell you one thing I like about this community?

We can discuss Atlas shrugged and disagree with each other, sometimes correcting each other, sometimes just better understanding each other: (a) without (for want of a better, less flaming description) "loud, obnoxious, dogmatic Randroids", who tend toward preaching in the guise of dialogue, and (b) without "unhinged Rand haters", who accuse Rand of affirming things which even a cursory (but serious) reading of her work would show she despises.

This is one thing (among others) that I like about this community. Thank you.

Largo said...

Alex,

I can envision crisis, but why do you predict huge bloodshed? By whom against whom? Mobs of people fighting other mobs in blind frustration? Federal military suppression of dissent (and of what sort of dissent)? Civil war of regional alliances -- red state versus blue, or economically productive vs economically collapsing?

Largo said...

Synova,

If you train a child to hate, to lie, to evade responsibility, and to blank out, that child will grow up hating, lying, evading responsibility, and blanking out.

I don't understand emergent social dynamics, but it seems that attitudes that both lead to and result from such "training" -- that such attitudes can somehow come to be prevailing attitudes in society, or sectors of society.

I can sympathize with how otherwise intelligent people can then end up blathering idiocy on such things that to them are so "obvious".

Should they be excused because someone *else* encouraged them to be idiots?

"Should they be excused because someone *else* encouraged them to be idiots?"

Excused from what? Pity? No. Censure? Also no. The political consequences of the prevailing attitudes? How would that be possible?

If sanity later prevails, I would not want to punish Dick and Jane who were caught up in it, for moral and for practical reasons. [I can hope they will be saying to themselves "how could we have been so foolish to believe (and support!) these lies?", and I would like to say to them, "don't rebuke yourselves further. It's over. Lets get to rebuilding."]

As to the Tooleys and the James Taggarts, are they to be excused? Again I don't know what you mean, and would have to ask "excused from what"? But as far as such men could be identified, I would hold them to a higher account.

I may be sharing your frustration. When I look at the direction England has been traveling for some time, I feel pity; but when I see how blithe the English public seems to be--the England of the Magna Carta!--I feel the urge to think 'to hell with them'. Which is not a good thing, but it comes from a feeling of exasperation and despair.

[I speak of someone who does not live in England, so the impression I get may not be accurate. Perhaps if I was living there, I might see a 'fire in the belly' that I do not see from here, a kindling fire waiting to flair up. I hope.]

Forgive my long comments Synova. I tend to be long winded when frustrated.

Largo said...

@Penny,

It feels much better to be well rested :).

You said that my questions in an earlier comment were loaded. I did not think them to be. Can you indicated which of them were?

Cordially.