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Was Ayn Rand too much of an optimist?

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We see in her works, time and again that the majority of average people can be pursueded to reason were the right circumstance presented and the right arguments made. (I reference the jurists' decision in the fountainhead and the public's reaction to John Galt's speech)

Now, of course her works were fiction, but she often said she used the fiction to show her philosophy in practice throught the lives of her characters.

I look at the current situation and don't see any possibilty of a happy outcome.

I think our leaders would destroy the country and everything within it before giving up power as in Atlas Shrugged.

I think the unproductive masses have bred at a rate Ms.Rand never imagined.

Could she have imagined that while the govt has not yet found an excuse to implement it that the govt could track via gps every living person? Could she really have imagined the depths of apathy or the level of indoctrination?

Now, I know AS isn't holy writ or anything of that nature.

But for years whenever I felt truly bleak I reread AS and Fountainhead and took comfort from it. It gave me some form of hope that shown enough evidence that A=A average people could be reasoned with.

Now it just makes me depressed.

I suppose I now find the entire thing fully believable (I often tell people they need not bother to read AS anymore- they're living it) right up until the happy ending. The collapse I get.... the revival.. I'm getting a bit foggy on that.

Any thoughts on this?

I think I might just be very tired.

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I think our leaders would destroy the country and everything within it before giving up power as in Atlas Shrugged.

The leaders in AS did destroy the country before giving up power.

But yes, I think Rand was too optimistic in the sense you mean.

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The leaders in AS did destroy the country before giving up power.

But yes, I think Rand was too optimistic in the sense you mean.

They destroyed the country but not everything in it.

My meaning was, if it got to that point, they'd probably kill anyone who disagreed with them or tried to get away and given the advances in technology would be very successful in finding and eliminating anyone who "went on strike".

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Yes. It all can become tiring. Could Ayn Rand have predicted a world where 'political correctness' was the common morality? Where 'post- modernism' replaced modernism? Where the new Marxists marched under the anti-globalisation banners? Where New Age mystics believe they have found something new, when all they have done is rediscover the Witch Doctor? Where her beloved adopted Nation was losing its Mind and its independence?

You bet she could have, and did.

In certain of those interviews I've picked up on this forum, I had a sense that Rand was looking down the decades and seeing where it was all headed; a sense of a sad grimness about her. ( But, I've been accused a few times of 'psychologizing', and will leave it at that.)

However, it is her benevolent Universe premise, and her generally joyous sense of life, that I for one will take heart from - with of course the legacy of the only life-affirming philosophy known to Man.

I think there is only one area where she was over-optimistic :- the spread and entrenchment of Objectivism. Could it be that she may have overrated the aspiration, the courage, and rationality of the average person?

It is not just irrationality that prevails around us today; in my opinion, it is full-blown insanity.

But enough gloom and doom! If you can keep your head, when all about you....!!

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I think the unproductive masses have bred at a rate Ms.Rand never imagined.

Ayn Rand lived in Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, and lived through the Great Depression, both events were far worse than anything we have seen in our life times, both rife with mooching, legalized looting, and power lust on a massive scale. Ayn Rand knew human depravity at its worst, she did not have to imagine it, she lived it.

She was not overly "optimistic".

Edited by phibetakappa
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Well I think some people would say she was way too angry and mad at the world. Really it depends on how you look at it. I don't take Atlas as a literal prediction but more like a warning. The book itself is to reality what Galt's speech was to the world ( in the book ). Basically it just puts everyone on notice that you can't keep punishing the producers and get away with it. I do think it will take a long time for everyone to catch on and many people will have to learn the hard way but the good thing is now that Rand figured out the basic pattern anyone that really wants to know whats going on can find out.

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I once had a conversation with an airport cabbie who had spent time working illegaly in the US. He said things were better there (I'm unclear on why he returned), but not for the reasons you might think. You'd suppose he'd notice, even as an illegal, that there were less regulations, lower and simpler taxes, less barriers to business, less corruption, a better kind of police and legal protection, etc in America as compared to Mexico.

But no, he dind't notice any of that. No, things were better there, he said, because in America he got government welfare and in Mexico he didn't.

When I run accross such people, I do feel how hopeless things can be.

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I think the unproductive masses have bred at a rate Ms.Rand never imagined.

This sentence alone invalidates your entire statement. What does the "unproductive masses" breeding have to do with anything? Just because your parents were unproductive, that doesn't mean YOU will be--and the fact that your parents were productive doesn't mean that YOU will be, either. The level of determinism on display here is appalling.

Ayn Rand was "optimistic" about the future because no matter what depths men sink to, we all possess the capacity to choose to change. Even if civilization is destroyed and a socalist dystopia instituted, men will still possess the capacity to throw off their chains and choose a better way. While we'd all prefer to fix or get off this sinking ship rather than go down with it, if it does go down that is not an permanent indictment of mankind nor an excuse to give up fighting. The means by which it is advisable to fight may change, but the possibility of victory will never be gone.

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This sentence alone invalidates your entire statement. What does the "unproductive masses" breeding have to do with anything? Just because your parents were unproductive, that doesn't mean YOU will be--and the fact that your parents were productive doesn't mean that YOU will be, either. The level of determinism on display here is appalling.

You could choose, you know, to be a little less nasty and ask me to clarify rather than assuming.

You accuse me of determinism when I said nothing of the sort.

My statement about the rapid breeding levels is about endless consumption NOW by the unproductive NOW unproductive people with children require more handouts than the unproductive without NOW and the fact that when you look at a great deal of the abuses against the individual that are proposed and legislated they have to do with people wanting things (preferrably supplied by others) for their children.

Welfare

WIC and foodstamps

Housing collapse

Healthcare

Public education

Huge burdens.

The reason I specified the breeding of the unproductive is that the productive don't insist that someone else foot the bill for their reproductive choices.

What do political campaigns tend to focus on to pull on people's emotions instead of their minds?

"the children"

The more unproductive people are told they will be given for themselves and their offspring the more they are likely to vote for the person offering it. Stossel put it pretty well recently when he stated that those who will rob Peter to pay Paul will maintain the loyalty of Paul. Those who grow up living off of entitlements are statistically more likely to consider said entitlements to be the norm (this is the case in socialist countries- which we are rapidly becoming).

Now, you could still disagree still with my point of view. But that still does not excuse a knee jerk attack and accusation when a rebuttal and/or request for clarification would have done just as well ... or even better. Frankly I think your ill thought out petty attack invalidates your entire statement.

edited for again.. bad typing.

Edited by QuoVadis
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  • 2 weeks later...
I look at the current situation and don't see any possibilty of a happy outcome.

I think our leaders would destroy the country and everything within it before giving up power as in Atlas Shrugged.

I think the unproductive masses have bred at a rate Ms.Rand never imagined.

AR believed in man's potential as a rational being; that is not being optimistic.

She was a benevolent person who saw the good in people; you could see that when talking with her.

She was certainly not unaware of trends in a direction opposite Objectivism. But she was more concerned with helping each individual live his life to the fullest than with those who could impede one's ability to do so. (Note that her focus was never on marketing her philosophy for maximum exposure; that was left to others.)

Look at the current political situation, think about what best can be done, and participate in activities that work toward that end. AR was fully aware of the "unproductive masses"..., but she was more concerned with the productive persons who helped enable the unproductive. Don't become one of those.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Ayn Rand lived in Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, and lived through the Great Depression, both events were far worse than anything we have seen in our life times, both rife with mooching, legalized looting, and power lust on a massive scale. Ayn Rand knew human depravity at its worst, she did not have to imagine it, she lived it.

She was not overly "optimistic".

While I agree with you, I think there is still something to be said about the world today. In my lifetime I've had the chance to speak with several people who lived through that time (the Depression), and the thing that I took away from them is that, while they are happy to live in a country that will step up to help them when in need, they were still very, very, very ashamed to take relief money from the government. To them it meant they had failed, when it was the politicians and the FED who were failing all around them. This is because FDR's answer to the Great Depression was totally unheard-of and foreign. Those people did not grow up with the idea that "Government takes care of the needs of the people when the people are in trouble". No, they grew up with that can-do, work your arse off to feed your family attitude.

Now, let's look at today. There is hardly a person alive, conservative or liberal, who doesn't hold the idea that "Government takes care of the needs of the people when the people are in trouble." On both sides of the aisle, FDR is one of our country's most well-known heroes. Sure, this generation and the last haven't experienced anything remotely as disastrous and devastating as the Great Depression, but that isn't the point the author of this thread was making. If there were another depression, the people alive today have neither the attitude or the leadership to handle it as well as the people during the Great Depression.

As a side note, it is for this reason that I think we will have our own 'Bolshevik Revolution' someday. A president was just elected on a slogan: "Hope and Change"; a promise to spread the wealth around: "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." (Direct quote); and a gaurantee to give to every lazy and unproductive person he can uncover everything they need to survive, "free"-of-charge. Let me restate the beginning of that last sentence: A president was just elected by majority vote...

It really is frightening. And, while I do everything from writing my congressman to taking a vacation day so that I don't miss the chance to vote to getting lost in hours of conversation with any socialist or liberal who is interested in intellectual conversation, I'm losing heart. I can't talk to enough people for enough time to convince them of the immorality of socialism, and, living in a state like Texas, my vote is mostly meaningless. As my classes get harder, and my studies intensify, I find myself becoming more and more like Roark: absorbed in my work and passion, and mostly insulated from the world around me. Lately, I've been having to remind myself to care, remind myself to read the news to see how the rest of these delusional individuals are going to vote away my rights. But, I'm starting not to care, and with that comes a bit of guilt, and even that is disappearing now.

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Let me tell you pessimistic. In the 80's, after his Ford Hall Forum talk, I heard Leonard Peikoff say that he was looking into printing AS in acid free paper and placing copies in the deepest caves he could find around the world. That is pessimistic. I don't know if he's changed his outlook much since.

It is never a good idea to attempt to predict what Ayn Rand would think of anything. Yet, I would expect that she would be pleased with the number of Objectivists and their activities today.

Sorry, but I just remembered another story form years ago. Apparently Ayn Rand did not think that the idea to produce lectures about Objectivism would be very useful. However, after the first live lectures in NYC had gone through several weeks, she said that she did see some benefit. She felt that even the most irrational people in the audience had benefited. In this case, even she was surprised at the power of reason and her philosophy.

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  • 4 weeks later...
It is never a good idea to attempt to predict what Ayn Rand would think of anything.

Yes. It is never a good idea.

In fact, I think she never intended for people to base their decisions on questions like "What would Ayn Rand do/say/think in this situation?"

She wanted us to use our minds.

Since A=A, it doesn't matter what she or any particular person thinks. Reality can be grasped by the use of reason.

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"Hmm... what would an Objectivist think of this situation?" is a good statement to throw out there if you want to look dumb. :P

Optimism is defined as thinking that we live in the best of all possible worlds, meaning that our world is streamlined as much as it can be all things being considered. I don't think Rand was too optimist. I do want to hear people's concrete arguments about:

1. What are the leaders doing to destroy the country? There are a lot of things being done by Obama and on capitol hill right now to turn things around.

2. How are the unproductive masses breeding? What would you classify as an unproductive individual?

OP, you are very tired, because your post didn't make any sense. Sorry man, get some sleep and talk in concretes.

Hey, long time no post! I'm back I guess.

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Well directly I'd say our current leaders are doing a good job of destroying the country. Continual deficit spending in the trillions of dollars and a national debt of over 12 trillion dollars are just two of the issues I would name. There's also socialized health care, public education, the welfare state, central banks, fiat money, destruction of the Constitution, etc.

It's real easy to let a lot of these issues pull you down. I used to get real worried about the future when I saw all of these problems piling up, thinking what was I going to do when all of these problems reached their climax simultaneously and civilization as I knew it came crashing down.

The best thing for any of us to do in situations like this is to educate ourselves and to spread that knowledge to those who will listen. Even if it is only one out of every fifty people you encounter, it is still one more person thinking rationally, something of which there is a huge shortage of these days.

I don't think Ayn Rand was overly optimistic. With the deplorable state of things these days, I do not imagine it can last much longer without there being a serious awakening of the American people. I believe that the Second Renaissance is attainable within our lifetime, and I will be personally upset with myself if I don't do as much as I can to push humanity towards that ideal.

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Rand saw the potential in man as a rational being, yet she understood what drove men to destruction and clearly saw the direction we were heading in this country.

But no, she was over-optimistic.

Note that she demonstrated, through Dagny Taggart, what it is to be over-optimistic. As Rand said, Dagny thought men were better than they actually are. She went beyond "benevelent universe."

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Yes, origin of optimism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leibniz

Continual deficit spending in the trillions of dollars

Which Obama is trying to control.

and a national debt of over 12 trillion dollars

Which is the same as the above in cumulative.

There's also socialized health care

Which we need. You can try to argue it all you want about private healthcare being better, but America was defined as pursuit of life, liberty, and the right to happiness. Individual responsibility is key, but a universal, easily accessible healthcare system is necessary for long run health for Americans. Point is, there's a lot of fundamental waste by design in the current for profit healthcare system, and the extent to which it's broken is proof.

public education

What specifically? Public education is a great thing - it's an enabler for people to have the tools they need to live the Randroid life.

the welfare state

What does that mean?

central banks

I also agree about this element being not good.

fiat money

Agreed, but there are bigger fish to fry right now, like the healthcare system.

destruction of the Constitution

What parts are being destroyed? Speak in concretes or don't bring it up.

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Which Obama is trying to control.

Interesting judgment given that Obama is drastically over-spending Bush. In this respect, he is making the previous administration look like amateurs. If you respond to pictures better here is a good visual.

You can try to argue it all you want about private healthcare being better, but America was defined as pursuit of life, liberty, and the right to happiness. Individual responsibility is key, but a universal, easily accessible healthcare system is necessary for long run health for Americans.

Those two are a contradiction.

Again, I would recommend educating yourself. In terms of health care here is a good start.

Public education is a great thing

Which we clearly see by your example.

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Yes, origin of optimism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leibniz

Elysium, I'm sorry, but I have to ask, why are you on this Forum? You do not subscribe to the principles that members of this board agree to. It is asked that you have some understanding and acceptance of Objectivism to participate. You don't. Your say in your comments that you are a government employee (not necessarily bad in and of itself) who is pro Obama and socialism. You do not support freedom, let alone reason. You did understand the basis of Leibniz's view of the world, so you accept religion and really silly ideas. Okay, that's alright, lots of people do. I'm not going to kick you. I just wish that you would go off and play somewhere other than our Forum. We deserve that respect.

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Elysium, I'm sorry, but I have to ask, why are you on this Forum? You do not subscribe to the principles that members of this board agree to. It is asked that you have some understanding and acceptance of Objectivism to participate. You don't. Your say in your comments that you are a government employee (not necessarily bad in and of itself) who is pro Obama and socialism. You do not support freedom, let alone reason. You did understand the basis of Leibniz's view of the world, so you accept religion and really silly ideas. Okay, that's alright, lots of people do. I'm not going to kick you. I just wish that you would go off and play somewhere other than our Forum. We deserve that respect.

I was wondering this myself.

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