Reading Atlas Shrugged

I read Atlas Shrugged sitting by my son’s bedside while he recovered from pneumonia in a Viennese hospital. His treatment cost us nothing, by which I mean nothing, as we not only benefited from European Union healthcare reciprocity, but also because I was not a taxpayer at the time and so made no financial contribution to social medicine whatsoever. I imagine this makes me what Rand would call a “looter.” It certainly made reading Atlas Shrugged all the more delicious; indeed, I could hear her bones rattling in her Westchester grave as I turned each page. Note to the Ghost of Ayn Rand: for all the looters like me, the Austrian capitalist economy has done pretty well over the years.

I enjoyed some of the book. I liked Dagny Taggart rather a lot and thought that she, rather than Galt or Rearden, was the real hero of the story. Dagny was at her best when she struggled against the economic implosion caused, not by looters like me, but sociopaths like Galt. Her dogged determination to keep going was admirable; her eventual acquiescence rather sad. The scene where she rides her new train is quite exhilarating as such things go. She is also a rather sexy minx, which might explain some of the appeal to a male reader, although I shall deny it vociferously if accused of such shallowtude.

The build-up to the John Galt reveal is also pretty good. In large part I kept turning those pages in that Vienna hospital because I wanted to know “who [was] John Galt”? I also found myself attracted to Rand’s celebration of human reason as an epistemologically good thing. These are about all the positives I can muster. Mostly, particularly the latter third when the polemic really begins, Atlas Shrugged is junk. Here’s why:

First, the philosophy. Randians clutch Atlas Shrugged at their tea parties as if she invented libertarianism and laissez-faire capitalism. She didn’t and others have done it better (see Hobbes and Locke). Any sensible reader will also note that the vehicle through which “Objectivism” is taught — namely the plot of Atlas Shrugged — is so clunky that the philosophy cannot be said to have been sufficiently or honestly tested. I mean, it is easy to hate the looters and see John Galt as the Messiah when the bad guys are painted with such cartoonish brushes. The Objectivist heroes are all three-dimensional; idiots like James Taggart and Wesley Mouch are 2D straw men that can be blown away at only the hint of a breeze.

Second, the ethics and politics. Rand overreaches spectacularly. As a critique of Soviet communism, the ethics on display in Atlas Shrugged would make better sense. Faced with the oppressions of the Soviet state, who could blame people like Hank Rearden for downing their tools? Indeed, one feels as if Rand is dealing with her own demons as a Russian-American, rather than facing any American/western reality. Given that the setting is a fictional, but still democratic America, the strike seems on one level juvenile, on another close to treasonous. (I wonder how modern, hyper-patriotic Randians stir that one in their teapot. The strikers destroy America.)

Third, the writing.  I’ll just mention the 50-page John Galt speech — a veritable dot matrix printer in prose — and leave it at that.

Over at M*, Geoff is engaged in a brave attempt to square Rand with the gospel. It’s certainly true that most any book will contain gospel themes (wait for my upcoming The Hungry Caterpillar and the Plan of Salvation), but Atlas Shrugged would seem an unlikely candidate. For one, its celebration of sexual deviance (adultery, barely consensual sex — activities which seem to have attracted Ms. Rand in her own personal life) would seem to disqualify it from a place on religious conservatives’ bookshelves. But let’s not be distracted by sex. When the ultra-atheistic Rand states that “concern and compassion” for the “the feeble, the flawed, the suffering, the guilty” is “mawkish,” one wonders how on earth this can find a friend in the philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for hard work and industry and certainly find much to be irritated with by the sprawling social welfare programme in my country (this is where I remind our dear readers that I am a member of the British Conservative Party, loathe New Labour, and look forward to a David Cameron premiership), but Atlas Shrugged is a really poor book, as both fiction and philosophy. Conservatives can do better.

Comments

  1. Mark Brown says:

    The definitive conservative takedown of Atlas Shrugged as an anti-Christian work was written by Whittaker Chambers in 1957 and published in National Review. A reprint is here:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/flashback/flashback200501050715.asp

    To contemplate the way that mainline conservatives rejected this book then and they way they embrace it now is to understand, to some extent, how conservativism has come down in the world.

  2. You actually look forward to a David “call me Dave” Cameron premiership? Isn’t he just a poor man’s Tony Blair? The paucity of political leadership in the UK genuinely concerns me. If there was an election tomorrow I would seriously consider spoiling my ballot.

  3. Meredith C says:

    Thanks Ronan, I really enjoyed this review. I cherish my memories of reading Atlas Shrugged and regard it to be the nuttiest book I have ever come in contact with. I think the fact that attempts are made to reconcile its doctrines with the gospel illustrates that even within the same religion, individuals have very different conceptions of the God we worship.

    Although I must say – I actually really like The Fountainhead (which, oddly, was lent to me by my YW president at the tender age of 16). Compared to Atlas Shrugged it’s a novella; it’s essentially a Mills & Boon romance mingled with the philosophies of men, and it has a happy ending.

  4. Mark Brown, you are wrong by haphazardly stating conservatives embrace the book. Some do, but what you are reading about on the net and hearing about from “conservatives” is libertarians who are fighting for control of the Republican party Don’t confuse them with what are called “RINOs” who may not tax, but they do spend and grow the government. Randians are just as anti-religious as any liberal Democrat, and a group of them are for more moral freedoms than religious conservatives are comfortable with. They are just as likely to support gay marriage (and polygamy for that matter) and abortion as they are to be anti-Islam and believers in laise-fair economis.

  5. Yeah, I also can’t understand how this inane blend of second-hand and often loathsome or ill-considered ideas could (a) count as original thought for anyone past the age of 20, or (b) be useful in working through Mormon social or political thought. A book that fails to resolve the Hobbesian dilemma, is attracted to ideas that have more than a superficial connection with eugenics, celebrates self-centeredness and egoism, and can’t accept the fact that most poor people work very hard and try to support themselves? Definitely a Mormon classic.

    To be frank, you could get a lot farther relating this book’s moral and social thought with the scraps of directly Satanic thought presented in the Mormon tradition than with our tradition’s own thinking.

  6. Jettboy, can I quickly challenge your evident assumption that all or most liberal Democrats are anti-religious? It just isn’t true.

  7. Mark Brown says:

    Jettboy,

    Your comment calls to mind something Chambers said in his review:

    Their archetypes are Left-Liberals, New Dealers, Welfare Statists, One Worlders, or, at any rate, such ogreish semblances of these as may stalk the nightmares of those who think little about people as people, but tend to think a great deal in labels and effigies. (And neither Right nor Left, be it noted in passing, has a monopoly of such dreamers, though the horrors in their nightmares wear radically different masks and labels.)

    I will say it again. 50 years ago mainline conservatives rejected this book emphatically. Now they don’t. When we can explain why that is the case, we will understand how and why conservatives have debased themselves.

  8. I think of Atlas Shrugged (and its author Ms. McNalley) as the psychosocial equivalent of dressing as a Klingon when it’s not Halloween. Its primary function is to define and advertise one’s membership in a distinctive group that makes me both uncomfortable and sort of sad. Alternatively I guess you could conceive of it as a totem on a stick, the totem depicting Mel Gibson with the blood of some unwanted ethnic group dripping from his sharp teeth. The book is a lurid embarrassment.

  9. Mark Brown says:

    But there is some redeeming value to this book, because it inspired one of the best Simpsons episodes ever, A Streetcar Named Marge.

    Maggie is enrolled in a preschool called The Ayn Rand School for Tots where the overseers act like nazis when it comes to children’s pacifiers. There is also a sign on the wall which says “Helping is Futile”.

    So consider this my McConkie moment. Forget everything I’ve said. Any book which inspires such awesome work in The Simpsons is a great, great book.

  10. Julie M. Smith says:

    I think the appeal is this: works of political philosophy can be pretty tough slogs. (That is, not the kind of thing one can read at the bedside of a sick child . . .) But this is a novel. Anyone can read a novel!

  11. Mark, not only that, but the book also served as a major inspiration for Bioshock, an absolutely excellent video game.

  12. Julie, I for one found The Leviathan a far easier and more engaging read than Atlas Shrugged…

  13. A quick question for you, Ronan. Maybe you can help me where selfish Randians who have commented on my blog refuse to answer.

    How exactly did Galt and his bunch feed themselves whilst they were on strike? Who picked the berries? Who planted the seeds? Who bought the food? Who created the latrines so everyone could go potty?

  14. Julie M. Smith says:

    J.,

    What’s your academic field, again? ;)

  15. “Atlas Shrugged is junk” How can you say that when it generated such an excellent post? Some good came of its creation.

    I first ‘read’ it on books on tape while I would go for my daily run. I read it because a friend felt it was the most important book ever written. It drove me deeper into liberalism (and not a Godless one Jettboy) as I realized that this was the best my conservative friend could come up with, they would turn the world into an artless world without any depth or compassion.

    But Ronan? Reading Rand in Vienna? Isn’t that a little like reading Che Guevara on Wall Street? Shouldn’t you have been reading Freud or Wittgenstein just out of respect for the place?

  16. I read Rand as a teenager and I though it was tiresome and unrealistic.

    But I have enjoyed how it has been used in Mad Men.

  17. Ronan, I am left with the impression you didn’t actually read.my post at M*. As Kaimi was able to see, I actually call on Latter-day Saints to see that Rand’s vision is antithetical to the gospel.

  18. Geoff,
    I did read your post and you’re right. I should have said “Geoff’s brave attempt to see if Rand can be squared with the Gospel.” Mea culpa.
    Daniel,
    Weren’t Objectivist toilet cleaners also invited to Galt’s Gulch? I can’t remember.

  19. SteveP,
    I used to sit at Wittgenstein’s table at Cafe Central. Does that count?

  20. As long as you were playing language games and not canasta.

  21. Ronan,

    My question is partially in jest, but more serious. I think it is central to the argument Rand makes. Who exactly are the “looters?” If Galt and his bunch are capable of living their lives truly independently, i.e. they can make their own food, then she would have a point. But if they rely on others to prepare foods for them (from farming to producing), then her point would not make any sense at all (which it generally doesn’t anyways).

    So I really do ask this question (because I really don’t want to read her book). How did Galt and his bunch feed themselves whilst on strike?

  22. Gomez,
    What can I say, I have drunk from the Cup of Dave. Besides, I quite liked the pre-Iraq Tony Blair. Surely you are fed up of Brown?

  23. Daniel,
    I seem to remember that Galtian farmers were also invited. Someone who has read the book more recently should chime in.

  24. Ronan,

    Count me as another who can’t stand Rand. I came to her late–in college–on the advice of a friend at BYU who said Atlas Shrugged is the greatest book ever written, including the “Book of Mormon.” I made it all the way through The Fountainhead and two-hundred pages into “Atlas Shrugged” before I gave up–finding it simply unreadable as both an artistic and philosophic work. On the other hand, the intervening eight years have made me much more sympathetic to libertarianism–perhaps it’s time to give it another shot:)

  25. >Mostly, particularly the latter third when the polemic really begins, Atlas Shrugged is junk.

    But this is no great or uncommon discovery; rather this reaction is common to even the fans of Rand’s books (of which ilk I am). Atlas Shrugged has one of the greatest build-ups to the biggest “thud” of nearly any book I’ve ever read—the first 500-600 pages are quite entertaining…and then…ugh.

  26. I think of Rand’s work as damaging as Marx (well probably less) . In the end this is the best thing that can be said about Atlas Shrugged.

  27. Since I am somewhat libertarian despite my apolitical leanings, I can say I have never read Ayn Rand’s books. And for the hard core Mormon libertarians I know, they are much more into “the politician” than “atlas shrugged”. And no, I am not, nor have I ever been a John Bircher. I think most modern libertarianism stems from mistrust of the government in how it handles it’s affairs (Bureaucracy, red tape, mismanagement of funds, lying, obfuscating, questionable ethics, etc. ), which I admit I am known to be bipolar on this, one moment being all against, and the next being all for.

  28. I guess I’m one who has learned how to almost reconcile Rand’s philosophy with the Gospel. What I took (and still take) from Atlas Shrugged was that society cannot survive if the people don’t take initiative and become active contributers to society. No matter what your life situation is, you can still give back to society in small ways. Taking an example from the book, when Dagny crashes into Galt’s Gulch and is recovering Galt offers his home for her to stay in, without anything in return. Dagny responds by insisting that she earn her keep, by becoming his housekeeper and helping in the only way she can. But enough of my rambling.

    #23: They did have farmers. The farmers weren’t necessarily farmers in their pre-Gulch life, but they were there.

  29. Ronan-

    I meant to point out one misinterpretation in your post: You would not be a looter in Atlas Shrugged. According to your description of yourself, you would be a moocher. Both have a valuable place in the book, but the role of looter is reserved for those who held large amounts of political pull and actually set the looting policies in action–not those who simply benefited from them.

    As I mentioned in (25), I am also a fan of Rand’s books, though less for the reasons being echoed in this thread, and more for a few characters that I found identification with at relevant times in my life. I have also spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to reconcile her writings with the Gospel (like over at M* or Katie (28)), and I have come to the conclusion that it’s like trying to pound a square bolt through a round hole.

    In short, there are just many, many things Rand gets “wrong” regarding the gospel (IMO), and it’s fruitless to try and apologize these things away. We can always argue that Rand used a different definition of this or that than we use in the gospel, but at the end of the day, requiring someone who disagrees with those definitions to accept them over and over again is just too much to ask and is simply grasping at straws.

    I believe a much healthier approach to Rand is to accept that reality, and then (unlike so many critics and lovers of her books) understand that one need not agree with the whole ideology to appreciate certain parts of it.

  30. I’d rather be a looter than a moocher. Looting’s way more heroic.

  31. Must be something in the water: Bruce’s (not) “brief review” of Atlas Shrugged gives it two thumbs up.

    http://adventures-in-mormonism.com/2009/04/18/atlas-shrugged-a-brief-review-wspoilers/

  32. Yeah Seriously, is it Ayn Rand week or something?

  33. I also liked pre-Iraq TB. Perhaps his greatest legacy is that he forced the Tories to make some fundamental changes to become electable. I will absolutely be glad to see the back of Brown. But something about Dave seems too manufactured but I think that is a problem running throughout British politics. Time will tell I suppose.

  34. The National Review recently held a symposium on the subject. The majority of leading conservatives that spoke still disagree strongly with her philosophy. The few that had tepid praise for the book were more along the lines of post 28, where they agree with a few of the larger ideas about contributing to society and not having the government reward poor decisions with other people’s money. (I would provide a link but the NRO search is currently broken)

    Overall I think its ironic that I have seen many many posts on the subject, and book sales are skyrocketing, yet her ideas are supposedly bunk.

  35. I named my dog Taggart after reading this book.

    I enjoyed the book and agree with Katie’s assessment. there are things in Rand’s philosophy to embrace, and things that must be rejected without apology. It is antithetical to the gospel in the end, as I pointed out here:

    http://mcqesq.wordpress.com/2007/10/16/atlas-shrugged-50th-anniversary/

    but I liked many of the characters, including Dagny, of course. Ronan, I agree that she is the real hero of the book and I think Rand did that intentionally, as she identified herself with Dagny.

    Daniel, did you read the book? The whole point was that those in Galt’s Gulch traded their labor and goods with each other. Of course there were farmers and workers. Some who did other things also farmed and worked on toilets because they had that skill and could trade it for things they needed.

  36. Here is one of the things I love about the book. It’s a great piece of writing:

    http://www.working-minds.com/money.htm

  37. MCQ,

    No, I did not read the book. An acquaintance had given me The Fountainhead as as gift for Christmas one year and I attempted to read it. I got about fifty pages into the story before I gave up. I just couldn’t stand the characters. So utterly fake. So cardboard caricatures. Then the premise of Atlas Shrugged is simply ridiculous. If I cannot get past the premise, there’s no chance I will ever make it through the book.

    My understanding of the gospel makes me conclude that Rand should be shunned. I can understand wanting to research her philosophy as one would want to study Marx or Nietzsche, to get a better understanding of what beliefs there are in the world… but to accept her ideas…

  38. Ronan,
    Then you must strive for Parliament!

    MCQ–Francisco’s money speech is one of the greatest passages in the world.
    (Pre-emptive defense to those who will say I have no clue what great literature is if I think that, there is no need to point out how awful it is and how shallow my opinion is–it’s all been said before. :) )

    Daniel,
    I hope you’ve similarly rejected every other piece of writing with a ridiculous premise.

  39. Daniel,
    Come on, man. There will be no shunning here!

  40. Steve Evans says:

    Don’t speak too soon, Ronan!

  41. Mark Brown says:

    Note to all:

    Do not, repeat DO NOT click on the link in MCQ’s comment #36.

    It’s boring and stupid. Ten year old kids who trade baseball cards and Yu-Gi-Oh stuff already understand it all, but that doesn’t stop this Rand person from beating us over the head for FOUR PAGES. It sucks, believe me.

  42. Maybe shunning is too strong of a word. Maybe ignoring is better. :)

  43. Mark,
    You didn’t heed my comment #38! :)

  44. Mark Brown says:

    Scott, I read it but nonetheless considered it my duty to warn my neighbor. Ho. Ly. Crap that is some dense prose. I was honestly surprised that it was only four pages long, it felt like twenty.

  45. Dan:

    The Gault clan did what needed done. I think part of the point is that excellence is excellence regardless of the field. So if great people needed to become farmers or ditch diggers they quickly could. And would do it with the same excellence as their previous careers.

    I perhaps read the book naively. I did not even attempt to make a religious connection. I viewed it as an intentional exaggeration – a type of ‘what it’ thought experiment. So I think reading it as simply exaggerated political ideas to make some points leads to a better experience.

  46. Thank you Eric. that’s about what I was looking for.

  47. Mark Brown says:

    And now I have discovered the secret to Rand’s popularity. When people finally make it through the book, they are so grateful that the beating has finally stopped that they embrace her.

  48. ZSorenson says:

    Daniel and Ronito,

    The heroes escape and very much do farm for themselves. Thinking of them as selfish rich industrialists conveniently ignores the whole point. The point is that these men are dedicated to a certain ideal of accountability and proper recompense for the value of their labor. In their little valley former bankers and car manufacturers and composers get their hands dirty farming and mining and cooking and doing all these things very well – because they really care about the product of their labor, ‘menial’ or not. In full society, these people rose to the top and became industrialists. Escaping society, they were the same people with the same values, but they were needed as farmers and home builders instead of money organizers.

    That’s the point, that people must decide to be absolutely accountable, individually, for their choices and labor and the product thereof. Why do so many miss the point?

  49. #36: That speech is one of my favorites of the book. I have to admit, I skimmed and even skipped 85% of John Galt’s 60 page speech, on the advice of my sister.

    And I think Scott B. (29) and MCQ (35) made my point better than I could. Most people, while reading the book, can’t get over the atheist premise and other issues of Rand’s philosophy. I think if you’re willing to separate yourself from that, there is a lot to be gained from the book. And the same goes for other literary works.

  50. Let’s be fair, Katie–it’s pretty difficult to see the LDS theology at times through the haze of wanton, semi-violent sexual encounters and religious mockery. But I can do it.

    The single greatest LDS theme to me is the opening of John Galt’s speech–“You can avoid living, but you cannot avoid the consequences of not living.” In other words, you, and you alone must take responsibility for your life (choices): It will not be sufficient before God to say, “I couldn’t help it! They made me do it!” In my view, the LDS theology demands a pro-active faith–one that chooses to accept life’s hardships and make the most out of them without complaint or requiring others to be martyrs for their well being.

    Yes, Rand missed the boat on many things. I will concede that without qualification. She also got a few things sooooo right. I listen to politicians speak on TV, and it is honestly like they quoting from a script out of Atlas Shrugged. It’s amazing.

  51. I understand that this makes me a bad person, close-minded and bad at economics, but eyes were sore from rolling 5 paragraphs into Francisco’s speech. Not that I disagree necessarily, but because it all seems so obvious. Maybe that is what going to college in the post-Soviet era entails.

  52. Mark Brown, thanks for providing the obligatory Rand-hater POV. A thread on Rand would not be complete without it. Now shut it.

    ZSorenson: An additional point that is made is in the book that they are very happy, because their labor is both needed and it is properly valued. The value of work and its propensity to instill happiness is a familiar theme, no? I wonder where I have heard it before…

  53. Steve Evans says:

    MCQ, she really did write an overly long book.

  54. For the benefit of John C and Mark B, I will concede that Rand is far too wordy, but I still think it’s a great piece of writing. Perhaps that’s because I majored in lit rather than econ or poly sci, but there it is. I view Atlas Shrugged as a great, if lengthy, piece of literature. I was interested in the characters and the story and I did not find the premise particularly hard to accept, or at least no harder to accept than most other pieces of fiction.

  55. We read this in my book club two years ago. I was just about to tear into the book—for the terrible writing, the sorry-weak heroine, the strawman foe—when a guy who was there for the first time bore his testimony of the book and how it brought him back into the Church. How do you respond to that??

    (I waited a few minutes, then tore into it.)

  56. Mark Brown says:

    MCQ, seriously, do you enjoy reading that? It felt to me like that crazy Rand bat was clubbing me over the head again and again, demanding that I say that she is brilliant when she is really stupid. Masochism just ain’t my thing, but if it were, I’d rather read the phone book for fun.

  57. Yeah Mark sorry, I and millions like me enjoy reading that speech. I don’t consider Rand brilliant, but I think it’s beyond ridiculous to call her stupid.

    BrianJ, terrible writing? sorry-weak heroine? I think you are wrong on both counts, but especially the latter. I don’t know how you can possibly make the case that Dagny is weak. She’s one of the strongest female characters in all of literature.

  58. Mark Brown says:

    You’re right. I amend my statement as follows:

    It felt to me like that crazy irritating Rand bat was clubbing me over the head again and again, demanding that I say that she is brilliant when she is really stupid very, very mediocre.

    The thing is, I enjoy reading Louis L’mour novels, but I don’t go around in public saying that they are great literature.

  59. To be fair to Rand, she isn’t doing anything that Heinlein didn’t do (over and over and over again). I also don’t doubt that Francisco’s speech might be more powerful read in context (I’ve never read the book; I only started the excerpt that McQ linked to). In any case, do people really argue that self-motivation is a bad thing anymore? That contributing to society isn’t something that people need to do? As I tried to imply, since the failure of the Soviet Union, communism and completely state-controlled industry seems like a straw man; an alternative that no-one takes seriously. Thus Francisco’s argument seems dated to me rather than boring (although I am sure I would skim it if I had to read it for reals).

  60. Also, I like Louis L’Amour and will not have maligned. Mark Brown, you are now on the list!

  61. OK, seriously, folks. I don’t care about the atheism one way or the other; it really doesn’t matter to me. I’ve got my point of view, other folks have theirs, asi es la vida. I even enjoyed reading Christopher Hitchens’s “God is not Great,” although nearly every idea in it was borrowed from Colonel Ingersoll. And the book isn’t bad simply because its political and economic ideas are juvenile and incoherent (although they are). The book is bad because it’s badly written. Cheese and crackers! It makes L. Ron Hubbard look like a concise writer with a firm grasp on plotting and a sophisticated sense of characterization.

    As for why the book is popular, well. It gives cranks a way to feel superior to the majority of mankind. What’s not to love?

  62. Mark, that’s because they aren’t.

    John, I would generally agree that the premise is dated, if it weren’t for the fact that people keep doing things that seem to play right into Rand’s hands. I’m no free-market nut, but if you are, and you abhor anything related to socialism, you’re out there right now chamioning Rand’s arguments to anyone that will listen. And believe me, people are doing exactly that. So you can say it’s dated all you want but the reality is, it’s as relevant as you want to make it.

  63. “She’s one of the strongest female characters in all of literature.” Well. One of the strongest female one-dimensional finger puppets in all of literature. For those of us who like characters to have two or more traits, we’ll have to look elsewhere, I guess.

  64. John C,
    Being bad at economics makes you a bad person. But you’re right–the simplicity is part of the point. Those who like Rand’s writing generally see the strongest points she’s making as so ridiculously obvious and common sense that it’s beyond comprehension as to how so many people could be so vehemently opposed to everything she wrote.

    MCQ,
    Steve makes a valid point. AS should have ended around page 750 before it went into the whole absurd Atlantis thang. The Fountainhead ended so much better…

    BrianJ,
    I would like to bear my testimony, that Atlas Shrugged would bring me back to church if I ever decided to leave in the first place. It is like sunshine in my soul. It improves the shining moments. It is a Wintry Day Descending…nevermind.

  65. JNS, once again, you disappoint me. Will you ever say anything that is not completely wrong? I’m still waiting.

  66. J, come on. Dagny wasn’t a 1-note piece.

    1. Business skillz
    2. Adultery skillz
    3. Smug skillz

    That’s three just off the top of my head.

  67. MCQ, a strong argument. I salute the superior power of the ultimate individual.

    It was always fun back at Berkeley when members of the Objectivist club would debate supporters of Larouche. It was like matter and antimatter, colliding and vanishing back into the void with a puff of energy.

  68. Scott B., a true socialist would argue that your three sets of skillz are really all equivalent… But let’s not go there…

  69. 1. Spite skillz
    2. Man-crushing skillz
    3. Engineering skillz
    4. Fashion skillz

    I can go on all day until we hit some you like.

  70. Mark Brown says:

    LOL!

  71. 1. Train driving skillz
    2. Contempt skillz
    3. Airplane pilot skillz
    4. Cigarette smoking skillz
    5. Superiority complex skillz

    (I’ll stop when you cry uncle and confess that Dagny is hot)

  72. Scott, other than engineering skillz, the card-carrying socialist’s hypothetical objection still stands!

  73. Mark Brown says:

    Scott, I think we need to call a spade a spade. It wasn’t adultery skillz, it was whore skillz. Three different men, even in the course of this very, very, very long book, puts her more in the category of a promiscuous insect than a desparate housewife.

  74. 1. Symphony appreciation skillz
    2. Domestic housewife skillz (just kidding)
    3. Cold, calculating gun-shot skillz
    4. Love triangle navigation skillz
    5. Metallurgy skillz
    6. Family scorning skillz

  75. (Mark, the adultery was inducing Hank the stud muffin out of Lillian’s house. We all know Dagny was a minx.)

  76. MikeInWeHo says:

    Anybody here remember the Southpark episode where Cartman was reading Atlas Shrugged? (or something like that) It was hilarious, as I recall. Ayn Rand is ripe for parody.

    You actually made it through the whole book in almost one sitting, Ronan? Wow, I am impressed. I gave up and switched to Cliff Notes.

  77. The thing that disgusts me about Atlas Shrugged (and Rand in general) is that the values (and the people that exhibit them) are so over-the-top in one direction that readers imagine the antithesis to be equally extreme. Like others have said, that sort of clunky anti-Soviet structure is outdated and pixelated.

    Provident Living, from an LDS standpoint, isn’t a prideful thing. But Randian self-sufficiency, I think, is pointedly so. It’s been my experience that the people who love Rand tend to buy into the myth of the welfare queen (for example) with far too much gusto. They equate the notion of a “moocher” with the poor far too readily (and likewise equate financial success with morality far too handily).

    I can’t for the life of me see how one could reconcile that with
    Mosiah 4:17-19. But of course, the people King Benjamin warns about in that scripture, much like Rand herself, “…have no interest in the kingdom of God.”

  78. Oh, and also, the writing burns my retinas.

  79. ZSorenson says:

    #77:

    You’re right about misconceptions concerning the poor and rich, but I think Rand would feel the same way.

    She had a habit of talking in absolutes it seems I think because she knew that the habit of rhetorical concessions to intellectual foes had weakened objective thought in America to the point where those who defend our society were no longer taken seriously.

    We should despise the poor, in the sense that there are some out there who could be working harder but aren’t.

    Now, a better way of saying that would be to say that we should despise habits that drag people down to less than their potential.

    The gospel teaches us to provide for those needs that are impossible for those in need to provide themselves. It also teaches us to sometimes – in the spirit of forgiveness – provide even when there isn’t an absolute need in the hope that the person involved would change from the gift enough to repent if needed.

    Objectivism wouldn’t emphasize that as much as the gospel, but it’s not incompatible I don’t think.

    Anyway, the rich who benefit from peoples’ ignorance and crony subsidies are viciously condemned by Rand. Only those whose ability to succeed earns their wealth are counted as righteous. Atlas Shrugged as a starting point makes absolutely clear that being rich is not the equivalent of being righteous, neither is having little the equivalent of being worthless. The book also mentions very poor people who are lauded for having good values (in contrast to some poor who are derided)

    In fact, material wealth is not nearly as important as the choices/actions/attitudes that righteously (or ‘rationally’ from their point of view) produce it.

    That is the point, and I think the gospel has more substance than Objectivism obviously and our actions would be slightly different than objectivists, but overall it surprises me how much might be the same.

    It is rational to help those in true need, there are lots of reasons, and they are ‘selfish’. But that’s okay. That is in fact the point. We are responsible for our actions, so our choices must revolve around what we judge as in our interests. Otherwise, there is a disconnect between us and our accountability.

    Obviously, Rand as an atheist has developed a philosophy that works only in the objective, measurable world. It is therefore incomplete from an eternal perspective. For the purposes of making an initial judgment about the world and action in it, Rand is dead on.

    In fact, assuming there is no God to help you as a first step in evaluating a situation, then viewing it from the point of view where He is there is a great way to develop accountability.

    So, again in ref to #77, that’s how you reconcile it.

    Pride is a Randian value because it represents a faith and satisfaction that one did one’s best in fulfilling a certain effort. Value, then is defined by the individual in a free society. If helping those who have absolutely no means to help themselves, or helping those who have been told so to learn it is not true is your value, you can act accordingly, but you can force others to.

    If we truly understood value and money as explained by Francisco D’Anconcia, we wouldn’t ask, “Why is it all about money?” but instead use our labor and wealth to help people rather than trying to expunge wealth from the world.

    Think of your abrethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your bsubstance, that cthey may be rich like unto you.

    Jacob 2:
    18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
    19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

    You don’t have to put your faith in riches to use them and value them for what they are.
    The welfare state is irreconcilably immoral.

  80. ZSorenson-
    >The welfare state is irreconcilably immoral.

    I like AS, and agree with much of what you wrote, but please– let’s not go there.

  81. Mark Brown says:

    Please, let’s be accurate. Ms. Rand was a stickler for detail and would surely disapprove of our sloth, indolence, and slovenliness. If we must worship big O Objectivism, then dammit, let’s be objective.

    The man’s name is Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastian D’Anconcia.

    To shorten it to Francisco D’Anconcia is an exercise in chumminess and informality which She would certainly find offensive. Why not just call him Frankie? To shorten his name in this manner is to be untrue to the vision of the verbose comic genius who piled these words up, along with so many others, as a monument to her diligence and effort.

  82. I’ve never read her but I gather from reading about her that she’s one of those people who forget that everyone had a mother, without which each of us would not have lasted a week. They aren’t a given, mothers.

    Like, a lot of people emphasize the competition in Darwinism and totally forget about the cooperation. Individually, we’re nothing at all, really. It’s by forming societies that we become something magnificent, a little lower than the angels.

    So people who think everyone should fend for themselves and they aren’t beholden to anyone else to give them help when needed, or let them “mooch” off them, people like that are not very intelligent. If their mother had thought that way she would have aborted them. If other people in society had thought that way, they would never have been raised or educated. Cooperators are the ones who rule the world. Loners who aren’t part of the fabric of society, who think they owe help to nobody, are really nothing.

    Now, because I haven’t read the book, this whole spiel might be completely off target. But that’s my impression of it from what I’ve heard, and from the people I’ve known who worshipped Rand, the things they believed. I’m certainly not going to waste my precious time reading that sort of tripe. =)

  83. McQ,
    And now you are on the list. But, aside from that, if these people who see socialism in Obama are the tea party people who are claiming to subscribe to Rand, I’ll by it when they send back their tax refunds. In the meantime, I remain unimpressed with the uses to which Rand is put.

  84. I’ve also heard it said that women shouldn’t date men over 25 who believe that Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead are the greatest books ever. It’s a gross overgeneralization, I’m sure, but I have heard it said.

  85. From the web site Kung Fu Monkey:

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

  86. Ann, that was awesome.

  87. ZSorensen,

    We should despise the poor, in the sense that there are some out there who could be working harder but aren’t.

    But that exactly contradicts what King Benjamin taught us in Mosiah.

    16 And also, ye yourselves will asuccor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the bbeggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
    17 Perhaps thou shalt asay: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
    18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
    19 For behold, are we not all abeggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
    20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a aremission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his bSpirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with cjoy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
    21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to aimpart of the substance that ye have one to another.
    22 And if ye ajudge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your bcondemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life cbelongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
    23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are arich as pertaining to the things of this world.

  88. King Benjamin’s talk highlights why Mormons particularly should not give heed to any word of Rand’s. In verse 19 of Chapter 4 of Mosiah, King Benjamin states

    19 “For behold, are not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

    20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins.”

    We as a people believe strongly in a dependency on God. We are beggars, all of us. How often do we beg the Lord to forgive us our sins? How often do we bow our heads to Him? We are utterly dependent on Him for all that we have. We say so in our prayers. The Lord taught us to say “Give us this day our bread.” The reliance is not solely on our strength to get our bread, but upon the Lord to give us this day our bread.

    Rand would have us believe CONTRARY to that! Rand is anti-Christ!

    Secondly, the things she brings up that earlier commentators highlight, the “values” the “hard work” and so on… do you think she was the first to raise them as characteristics of a good man? Did she really bring anything new to the discussion of what is a good man? No. Not at all. There is nothing new. The only thing new that comes from Rand is the selfishness of Objectivism, which is completely contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why on earth would any Mormon consider her works of any value when she raises no new points that haven’t been raised before except ones that are contrary to the Gospel? Why on earth would any Mormon consider her philosophy? There’s nothing there you cannot find elsewhere. There are better philosophers out there that teach of the good man, but who don’t carry the baggage of anti-Christ teachings.

  89. bah, sorry for forgetting to detag the blockquote.

  90. I just read Atlas shrugged this winter.

    I love the concept of recognizing greatness. I’m amazed at how brilliant people can do anything they set their mind to. I do appretiate the beauty of capitalism and the incredible frustration when government gets in the way. I admire hard work and determination.

    What amazes me is that Ayn Rand was able to see past her soviet upbringing into captialism. She recognized that there were economic principals with long term consequence. Economic laws…YET she missed that there are moral laws with dramatic long term consequence. Missing is any sort of concept of love and family…marriage takes a constant beating.

    Her dislike of religion seems to focus, in galt’s speech, on a misunderstanding of the fall of adam. She focuses on the downward of the fall and completely misses the forward. She doesn’t see that religion involves incredible human potential and personal responsibility. She is not willing to accept any grace after all she can do and doesn’t believe any religious person will do much when they can be a looter of salvation. I wonder if Hugh Nibley has gotten ten seconds of free time up in heaven to throw her a bone or two to chew on.

  91. This discussion of reconciliation reminds me of something Jim Faulconer said to us once in a new faculty training meeting. He was warning us about overeager students that would try their darndest to bend and twist their favorite writer/philosopher/historical figure into the shape of scripture. “After all,” Jim said, “We Mormons do like to baptize the dead.”

  92. I bought Atlas Shrugged 10 years ago. I started to read it, but stopped for reasons I can’t remember. I recently picked it up again. It has been a struggle to read. I’m only on page 154. I keep hoping the book will get better. The comments to this post are not instilling confidence. Life is short, Atlas Shrugged is a long book. I’m a slow reader. Maybe its time to cut my losses and put the book in the Good Will bag. Besides I’ve got three books about Kabbalah that have been sitting unread on my bookshelf for several years now.

  93. MCQ: I see many have already responded, so I have little to add. “She’s one of the strongest female characters in all of literature.” If that’s true then it just reflects on a general absence of strong female characters. Rand set Dagny up to be all strong and principled, but when all is said she just can’t resist or get by without the man. She’s strong, but the man is stronger.

  94. From Atlas Shrugged I learned a powerful lesson to go the distance and not make excuses. Dig deep and meet commitments. When things get tough, dig deeper.

    There were many other salient lessons as well. Thanks ZSorenson for pointing some of those out.

    Get the book out of your Good Will bag and finish the book. You know it will bug you until you know for yourself.

  95. I learned those same things from marching band camp.

  96. LOL

  97. Sorry. Too snarky. But really, I have yet to hear anything in the pro column for this book that can’t be found better, more profoundly, and in more harmony with the gospel, elsewhere.

  98. Mark Brown says:

    Carol,

    How true. I agree with you completely, the act of reading this book teaches stamina, grit, pacing, determination, and endurance. I was tempted to give up about every 5 pages, but I sucked it up and soldiered on. War and Peace is like the Sunday comics compared to this. It certainly was a character building experience, and prepared me for knocking on 5,000 doors in a row without being invited in on my mission.

  99. Jeremy,
    Super cool strawman there. I can’t think of a single exception to your criteria, except maybe “The Temple” or “General Conference”.

    Brilliant.

  100. Scott B.,

    I really don’t understand what you mean by straw man. The cases for the book seem to be “there’s lots of good stuff if you can get over the bad stuff.” I’m just saying it seems there are plenty of places to get the good stuff elsewhere.

  101. “Besides I’ve got three books about Kabbalah that have been sitting unread on my bookshelf for several years now.”

    Yeah, you’re totally going to get a lot more out those. [rolls eyes/bangs head]

    BTW, Ann (#85) I agree with that quote, and of the two, Tolkein is better.

  102. Dan, it’s not exactly an earth-shaking revelation that Rand is anti-christ. She’s anti-religion, and very up-front about it.

  103. It’s astonishing to me that there are still people who will condemn a book without ever reading it. It’s a work of fiction, Dan. It’s important for people to understand it for the sake of culteral literacy, if nothing else. You very obviously do not understand it. Stand down from your soap box until you actually know what you’re talking about.

  104. “I have yet to hear anything in the pro column for this book that can’t be found better, more profoundly, and in more harmony with the gospel, elsewhere.”

    One thing that’s wrong with that argument, Jeremy, is that it means we should read nothing but the scriptures. However, we know that’s not what the Lord has counseled us to do.

    The other thing that’s wrong with it is that books are not just full of this fungible “stuff” that can be easily labeled “good” or “bad” and gotten in any Wall-Mart. If you fail to read Atlas Shrugged, you are absolutely missing out on some “good stuff” that you cannot get elsewhere, and you and the world will be poorer for it. Even if, in the end, you think it’s junk. Right Ronan?

  105. Jeremy,
    I called it a strawman because you criticized the “pro column” for not giving you something gospel-related that can’t be found elsewhere in better form. That same criticism can be made of anything–you set up the requirement to be such than it must necessarily fail; that, sir, is a strawman.

  106. Aw c’mon, I really don’t need to be lectured on the value of reading literature. I’m a liberal arts academic for cryin’ out loud. Who’s building straw men?

    We’re not talking about any book here. We’re talking about a book that created a movement, a whole school of thought, with a name that gets capitalized — a movement that I and others find deeply, deeply problematic from a gospel standpoint (not to mention several literary standpoints). And, moreover, one that many people treat as gospel. With all that, there are many, many books I’d rank higher on my recommended list than Atlas Shrugged., with nary a worry that the reader would be the worse for having missed it.

  107. Scott B,

    Nowhere did I say or even suggest that people should only read scriptures, or that the only “good stuff” in literature is stuff that is redundant with scripture. If you knew me you would realize how utterly nonsensical it would be to read my comment that way.

    My problem with A.S. is not that there’s some “bad stuff” that goes along with the “good stuff,” or that the “good stuff” it outweighed by bad ideas or bad writing (though I think they are), but that Rand wants to be read as scripture–few of even the most godless literary or artistic figures display such hubris. Furthermore, it’s not just the “bad stuff” that I find antithetical to scripture, but what many cite here as the “good stuff” about the book! (See comments above RE King Benjamin’s speech.)

    To summarize: clumsy, clunky, political philosophical ideas + morally problematic values + bad writing + so many other better books to read = why bother?

  108. But Jeremy, I don’t know you, and putting the burden of “knowing you” or even your major in college or profession on every person in a comment thread is just too much to ask. With the further clarification you gave in your last two comments, I “see”; but please forgive me when I say that your first comment–the one I called a strawman–was exactly that.

  109. Scott B.: right, you don’t know me, so don’t read your uninformed caricature into my comment. My comment in 97 comes nowhere close to saying what you claimed it said.

  110. Can’t we all just get along? Hey for all you who haven’t read AS, here is the abridged version.

    [edit: after a more careful reading, it has come to my attention that there are crude sexual references and strong language in the abridged version, please be advised.]

  111. Cynthia L.: That was perfect. I feel better now. Thanks.

  112. Jeremy,

    #97,

    Sorry. Too snarky. But really, I have yet to hear anything in the pro column for this book that can’t be found better, more profoundly, and in more harmony with the gospel, elsewhere.

    That’s exactly my feeling. and it is very interesting to see Rand supporters stretch and reach for justifications that we should read her work despite not being that original and get past her anti-religions feelings.

    MCQ,

    #103,

    It’s astonishing to me that there are still people who will condemn a book without ever reading it. It’s a work of fiction, Dan. It’s important for people to understand it for the sake of culteral literacy, if nothing else. You very obviously do not understand it. Stand down from your soap box until you actually know what you’re talking about.

    Clearly it is more than a work of fiction if tea party participants are holding that book with them at their protests. Clearly it holds more meaning to some people than simply a work of fiction. And as far as a work of fiction is concerned, I tried to give Rand a try. An acquaintance had given me The Fountainhead as a gift one Christmas. I tried reading it. As far as fiction is concerned, Rand is a terrible writer.

    One thing that’s wrong with that argument, Jeremy, is that it means we should read nothing but the scriptures. However, we know that’s not what the Lord has counseled us to do.

    That’s not what Jeremy, or myself, are arguing. We’re saying, look, put, say Rand and Hobbes next to each other. Out of the two of them, how different are they (I believe both are fairly conservative philosophers, or philosophers that have influenced conservative thought), how much baggage do they carry? What new thoughts do each of them bring? When you do such a comparison, you realize you get all the good stuff in Hobbes without all the crap that Rand brings, that selfishness stuff, which is really the only thing new that she brings to the table, which also happens to be contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So why spend such energy on her outside a cursory reading?

    If you fail to read Atlas Shrugged, you are absolutely missing out on some “good stuff” that you cannot get elsewhere, and you and the world will be poorer for it.

    What can you get from Atlas Shrugged that you cannot get from somewhere else, a better written book, MCQ? What is so profoundly new in Atlas Shrugged that would be worth the effort of reading 1200 ponderous pages?

  113. What is so profoundly new in Atlas Shrugged that would be worth the effort of reading 1200 ponderous pages?

    The opportunity to argue about its contents without sounding foolish.

  114. StillConfused says:

    I read the book and rather enjoyed it though I will admit that I skipped passed the long speech… I didn’t feel that was necessary — the story clearly got the point across. I rather enjoy the thought of the providers jumping ship to a new country…though I think it should have truly been a new country rather than the mountains of Colorado.

  115. Does this mean I have to stop watching the Incredibles?

  116. No, The Incredibles is awesome. Carry on.

  117. Dan, you only read books that have something profoundly new? I pity you more now than ever.

  118. MCQ,

    No, I don’t read only books that have something profoundly new. I said that you could read Rand if you really wanted to, but why should anyone bother with her philosophy beyond a cursory reading when her philosophy offers nothing new that other philosophers already brought up, except for the one item that is contrary to the gospel! Her addition to the world of philosophy is selfishness. Everything else she talks about was already introduced by someone else. There is nothing new there but selfishness, which is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    So again, why should Mormons bother with her philosophy when the only thing new she offers is contrary to what we believe religiously?

  119. Jeremy, I really think you’re confusing my comment with MCQ’s. I didn’t say your comment “said” anything at all. All I pointed out was that your criteria, as you stated them, allowed virtually no exceptions. You can impute ill will from my comment if you like, but the fact remains–your comment was a form of argument called a strawman, and I simply pointed that out.

  120. Yeah, I think that’s about enough of this Scott B. I’m going Galt from this thread.

  121. And now I have discovered the secret to Rand’s popularity. When people finally make it through the book, they are so grateful that the beating has finally stopped that they embrace her.

    It’s like a PhD. It sucks really bad, but when people finish, they tell everyone else how *GREAT* it is, so that they feel like such suckers.

  122. Carol (94),
    Yes I will keep the book and I’m sure eventually finish it.

    MCQ(101),
    I started to read one of the Kabbalah books last night and I must say its an enjoyable read. That is more than I have gotten out of Atlas Shrugged so far.

    My vote also goes to Hobbits and Dwarves and Orcs.

  123. Carol F. says:

    Mark Brown #98, LOL

  124. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 121
    Atlas Shrugged might induce a literary version of the Stockholm Syndrome. It would explain a lot of Rand’s defenders.

  125. Peter LLC says:

    121: It’s like a PhD….

    I am reminded of a mountaineer talking about climbing Really Tall Mountains: “It’s like hitting yourself on the head with a hammer–it only starts being fun when you stop.”

    105: that, sir, is a strawman.

    Those, sir, are easily the two most pompous commas in this thread.

  126. Pete,
    Just trying to be like Dagny…
    1. Smug skillz
    2. Contempt skillz
    3. Pompous comma skillz

  127. Peter LLC says:

    Scott, as long as they are accompanied by a modicum of bow hunting and computer hacking skills, I’m cool.

  128. Atlas Shrugged is not a conservative novel and Rand’s message wasn’t conservative. The “moral of the story” is the virtue of individualism versus collectivism, nothing more. I don’t think Rand would have any problem with Jesus, as long as the charity was done by choice, not force (or the implied force of taxation/regulation). Sounds good to me!

  129. Yes, Pete, there are, in fact, bow hunting, or more generally speaking, archaic hunting and survival, skillz, to go along with, or complement, if you will, my set of pompous grammar, or, to be more specific, pompous comma, skillz.

  130. Cynthia, that AS condensed version was awesome.

    I don’t think Rand would have any problem with Jesus, as long as the charity was done by choice, not force (or the implied force of taxation/regulation).

    Rand had a big problem with Jesus (or at least Christianity) and also with charity. Her philosophy is fundamentally incompatible with the gospel because its ethical standard is egoism. That’s the opposite of Christianity and pretty much every religion out there. Rand, of course, was vehemently anti-religion.

    That said, I enjoy Rand’s novels very much. She spins a good yarn. I also appreciate her ideas, even though I disagree with many of them. She makes an elegant defense of capitalism. I like her work because it’s provocative. I think it’s brilliant and fatally flawed.

    Anyone who wants to take Objectivism seriously should read more about Rand’s own life. It really puts her philosophy into perspective. She practiced what she preached, but she was truly a destructive person. A psychopath who spun a good yarn*.

    * With the exception of the last bit of Atlas Shrugged, which was, as Scott B. put it, a big thud.

  131. I recently watched Ayn Rand’s 1959 interview with Mike Wallace. If you take her at her word, it is much more difficult to reconcile Christ-like charity with her ideas than some on this thread have suggested.

    As she makes clear in her interview, self-interest (or selfishness) is not a feature of her system, it is the single guiding value of her system. Self-interest for the sake of everybody getting only and precisely what they supposedly deserve. It is beyond me how one can square that with a system based almost completely on an infinitely selfless sacrifice on behalf of those who didn’t deserve it.

  132. Mark Brown says:

    Yeah, the part where they destroy the symbol of the cross and replace it with a dollar sign is pretty hard to miss. It is also a good example of her heavy-handed earnestness.

    As Bart would say, this book both sucks and blows.

  133. Ronan, just in case you come back to this, I take it all back. I may still have serious reservations about DC, but after this budget of lies, deception and diversionary tactics, I’d vote for traffic cone before I’d vote for Brown and Darling. I’m with Dave.

  134. gomez,
    Did you see Starkey on Question Time last night? Well worth a watch.
    Labour is finished. Give DC a turn.

  135. Starkey’s opening rant was fantastic as was his point about rewards and penalties. I actually think a hung parliament with Vince Cable as chancellor may have merit. Thinking about it, its Osborne I have serious reservations about. If DC ditched Osborne and moved Ken Clarke to shadow chancellor I’d be a lot more inclined to vote Tory. But I doubt Dave has the bottle to make such a move. Either way, Brown’s time is definately far spent.

  136. Vince Cable is brilliant, that’s for sure.

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