Atlas Shrugged

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Atlas Shrugged

Post  Max on Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:40 pm

Another interesting Ayn Rand novel about what would happen if all the people of superior ability holding up the world gave up and left. How we demonize the rich, and at the same time one way or another depend on those same people for survival somewhere down the food chain. It was written in the 50s, and half the book is just crazy ranting that I gave up trying to follow, but in between that there is a lot of brilliance in it. I think this was the period of communist witch hunts in hollywood, so she was probably writing some of the book with extra zeal in order to ensure she was safe from persecution (she came from Russia).

As far as investing lessons, it was interesting to see the scenario of the breakdown of society. First by well meaning legislation implemented without thought of unintended consequences, and ultimately through political gangsters setting up their own protection rackets. Its a pretty harsh vision of humanity as a bunch of mindless, greedy, suicidal lunatics, but then when you go out into real life and talk to people and hear some of the same crazy ideas so thoroughly debunked in the book coming from otherwise reasonable people, you begin to think maybe its not so unrealistic a picture after all.

I thought a lot of how much we still depend on railroads and shipping for transportation of goods, and how there doesn't seem to be any near term solution to change that. How important steel and corn are to all industrial and agricultural production. Ayn Rand seemed to favour gold as a hedge in worldwide social/economic meltdown.

Max
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Re: Atlas Shrugged

Post  Max on Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:28 pm

I read they just premiered a movie for this book (part I of II anyway). Good chance the movie will be crap, since they apparently changed the setting from the 50s to modern day, which would require a total rewrite of most of the plot. Still despite its probable shortcomings, I hope they manage to capture the spirit of the book.

The lesson is the cycle of being ostracized for taking an opinion apart from societal norms. As the opinion is validated and society is forced to challenge their beliefs, there is resistance. Some people change and accept the new idea, but those that reject it after it has been validated choose to reject logic, reason, and if you take the extreme end of Ayn Rand's ranting, they also reject reality and life itself. The lesson of the story is that these people grow disconnected with reality and eventually are no longer capable of having an opinion of their own, relying solely on the validation of societal norms. As a social group composed of those who rely on the opinion of others cannot come to a decision, this leads to implosion and in the end, they become dependent on the very people whose ideas they rejected in order to lead them out of disaster.

In comparing to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is a scenario where Wall Street and all the corporate leaders disappear and force the occupiers to learn the hard way how dependent the 99% is on the 1% for their survival. The occupy Wall Street movement is eerily close to the early plot of the book, and the request for crazy new laws to protect them from free competition was the next part of the plot which was mapped out in the book on the trail to disaster.

Not everyone has time for the book, but I certainly recommend you watch the movie. No matter how bad it is (even if they don't make part II), hopefully they still capture the main lesson.

Max
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Re: Atlas Shrugged

Post  Max on Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:07 am

Just watched this movie. Badly done. Don't bother.

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