Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I wish John Galt were an editor.

Current book: Atlas Shrugged
Pages read: 344-442

I'm getting exasperated with Ayn Rand. The title of this book should actually be Hitting You Over the Head With a Giant Stick Again and Again. Which would not be much less subtle than the actual title, when you think about it.

I'll tell you what happened, though God knows why I bother, since all you really need to do is go read the definition of Objectivism and you've got everything of import out of this leaden tome. Ahem. So, the collapse of American industry continues, and one by one the great leaders of the country begin retiring after visits from a mysterious figure. (::cough John Galt cough::). It's implied, though not directly stated, that he's convincing them to stop working for the greater good because of the fact that the greater good isn't working for them. (It's also possible that it could be Francisco D'Anconia, since he comes to talk to Rearden about the same thing, but I think it's coincidental. Or they're working together for the same ends.) Dagny and Hank's affair continues, and eventually Hank's wife finds out, but nothing really happens as a result aside from the fact that she makes it clear she only married him for his material goods. (There's a shocker.) At the same time, James Taggert seduces and marries a poor working girl, purely because it will create the appearance of his personal charity and generosity. At the wedding reception, Francisco D'Anconia shows up and rants for a while about how great money is, after which he proceeds to inform the gathering that D'Anconia Copper stock will be completely destroyed the next morning after an unfortunate mining disaster. Everyone in the room seems to own the stock, which, in addition to proving that they're all hypocrites because they've invested heavily in foreign interests, sends them into a panic and ends the party in an embarrassing fashion.

As a result of Hank's denial of the government's request for Rearden metal, they threaten to put him on trial for selling more Rearden metal than he should have to another industrialist. He did, in fact, break the ridiculous rules that governed that sale, but instead of bowing to their blackmail, he tells them to go ahead and put him on trial, where he will finally be able to express his opinion to the public. Where we stand now, he's at the trial and in the midst of making a statement about how unfairly he's been treated, asserting that he refuses to defend himself because he's committed no crime.

Ayn Rand continues to make precisely the same point over and over again. Government control of profit-seeking is counter-productive and motivated as much by greed as profit-seeking itself. The free market is the only way to run an economy. Looking out for your personal interests is not only a natural impulse, but also a noble one. I GET IT.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you GET IT. In case you start to wonder, you could always check out A. R.'s "The Virtue of Selfishness"



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