08 October 2012

Without the Genius of the Vital Few, Life Would be Unexpectedly Brutal

Modern human lives have been made easier by scores of innovations of all kinds, made by people down through history who could be referred to as the "vital few." These people were not necessarily liked or celebrated by the masses, but without their contributions, life as we know it would be far more brutal and short than it is.

From a review of the film:

I would... ask why the “vital few” in society would put up with barriers placed in the way of their economy-enhancing achievement by the ankle-biters of the political and regulatory class.

...Atlas Shrugged, Part II, set for wide release in movie theaters this coming Friday, asks that question, and it’s answered in a very uplifting way. Simply put, the talented, from concert pianists to energy entrepreneurs to transportation visionaries, are beginning to shrug.

...Economic growth is so easy, that’s especially true in a country like the United States full of the most talented individuals on earth, yet our economy suffers today and Atlas Shrugged II reminds us that when looking for causes, we need look no further than a political class full of little people who are putting up barriers to productive economic activity.

Readers understandably want a verdict on Atlas Shrugged II in addition to policy analysis. The answer is that the film is a must see because it in a very handsome way describes the world in which we live today whereby the achievers are being shackled by the moochers. _Forbes: Atlas Shrugged II is Must-See Movie
There are several changes in Part II, including a new cast. Those who have read the book will understand the challenge of transforming Rand's written prose into cinema. But given how few people actually read books these days, it is worth trying to bring the words and ideas to the screen, if only in an effort to partially combat the ubiquitous "dumbing down" that is being carried out by schools, popular and news media, politicians, and popular culture in general.
I just finished watching a DVD reviewer’s copy of Atlas Shrugged Part II, the second installment in the promised trilogy, scheduled to open October 12. It’s late and I’m tired. Tired and scared. Tired of standing on the deck of the Titanic, like so many others, shouting “Iceberg, Iceberg!” Scared as I watch the impending train wreck of a global economy that is being recklessly driven toward a fiscal and monetary cliff by its political masters—safety valves welded shut, fuel being poured on the fire, desperately trying to outrun a disaster of their own making. Wondering if I will know when it’s time to start planning a personal escape, or will stay until it’s too late.

...The drip, drip, drip disappearance of the major industrialists, their businesses falling like dominoes, the economy deprived of innovators who did build that, is alluded to but never viscerally experienced. There is no substitute for plowing through the book, night after night in impending dread, much as we are doing today watching the evening news.

I could go on, but I won’t. You’ll have to read the book—which was a big deal, and still is.

This movie, released a mere three weeks before the election, deserves your support. Vote for it with your movie dollars, if nothing else but to protest the statist madness engulfing us. Perhaps it will force some rational dialogue. _Forbes_ Atlas Shrugged II: Ideas that Tower Over Any Movie

I suspect that popular culture in most western countries has decayed too quickly and too extensively to be rescued by any number of thoughtful films, books, documentaries, or articles. But the idea is not to save cultures or populations as a whole -- that would be impossible. The idea is to help fortify pockets of resistance to the extent that they can survive any likely "dark ages" that may occur as a result of this rapid cultural decay.

The future is likely to be a dangerous place, an Idiocracy without the comic relief. You should learn how to make yourself and your children dangerous, so that when the time comes you, too, will be ready to go Galt.


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Blogger Tim said...

The Soviet union limped along for 80 years with a more irrational economic system than ours, and with much less wealth to lose. Absent the cold war it might have persisted still. The collapse, while painful, was nowhere near as spectacular as what some are predicting for the west.

Ayn Rand's fantasy class war is really the mirror image of Marx's. They both misunderstand human nature. The working class in the west never really revolted and the Soviets never really went Galt. The movers and shakers in our society are more like Dagny: they keep going, they just can't help themselves.

Monday, 08 October, 2012  
Blogger Dan Kurt said...

@Tim said...
The Soviet union limped along for 80 years with a more irrational economic system than ours, and with much less wealth to lose.

NONSENSE, NONSENSE, INVINCIBLE NONSENSE. Belief in the above BS underlies why people think that "liberal democratic government" can work long term, that "a safety net can be constructed to protect all forever, that "regulations, common sense regulations of course" make sense, that (supply one or more) of the myriad interventions by government to control the economy can work to make it better, more just and more fair.

The SOVIET UNION was propped up by the West for its entire existence. Doubt this? Erase any doubts by reading Anthony Sutton's three volume history: WESTERN TECHNOLOGY AND SOVIET ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
1968 Volume One 1917-1930
1971 Volume Two 1930-1945
1973 Volume Three 1945-1965
In print available from Hoover Institution Press.

Dan Kurt

Monday, 08 October, 2012  
Blogger Tim said...

Dan, you don't seem to have contradicted the sentence you quoted. I've re-read it and I think it's on pretty solid historical ground. I'm aware of the "externalities" that affected the Soviet experiment. Could you admit that having to plow a quarter of their productive output into defence probably didn't help them?

I certainly don't believe "liberal democratic government" is sustainable. I'm saying certain people want to believe that the situation will come quickly to a head, the way it did in the novel. I think that's B.S. If I'm wrong, we can meet in thunderdome next year and you can shout at me some more.

Tuesday, 09 October, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

The movers and shakers in our society are more like Dagny: they keep going, they just can't help themselves.

I think you are making Rand's point for her. If you have read the book, you will remember that that is precisely what the movers and shakers did -- until they had been pushed to the point where they could no longer not help themselves.

If you study catastrophe theory or chaos theory you will know that many systems keep working right up to a critical point, after which they fall apart rather quickly.

Market economies are resilient simply because they are a natural extension of human nature, to grow, to build, to improve one's condition, to selfishly cooperate in profitable trade and exchange, and so on.

Efforts to impinge on natural market forces may hamper some of that resiliency, yet still allow the system to operate. As more and more restrictions and handicaps are placed upon the system, it is less able to operate efficiently, and eventually will break down.

Once the restrictions are removed, it will eventually spring back to life, in a manner dependent upon the characteristics of the underlying population concerned.

Tuesday, 09 October, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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