Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Is it possible for a free country to come about quickly?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Not that I am naïve enough to hope to live to see it, but is it possible for a free country to come about by any means other than a multi-generational cultural change that will swallow up the lives of everyone alive at the time of its inception? Could a core group of young Randian geniuses pull off an Atlas Shrugged amidst the chaos?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, happiness said:

Not that I am naïve enough to hope to live to see it, but is it possible for a free country to come about by any means other than a multi-generational cultural change that will swallow up the lives of everyone alive at the time of its inception? Could a core group of young Randian geniuses pull off an Atlas Shrugged amidst the chaos?

As you have observed, on existing land territories incumbent government structures and societal cultures will dictate the possibility,  speed, and extent of any change.

Unless it’s only some kind of Sea steading, artificial island, deep sea, or space colony which is established as the new country, no geniuses will be able to pull off anything to bring about a truly free country without changing culture over the long run, which is slow.

Any sharp and sudden “shrugging” by anyone with any real economic power will be seen (by the prevalent culture) as callous and power hungry, simultaneously indifferent to the public good while attempting a kind of blackmail at the expense of the poor…

keep believing it is possible, it might be as good for your psychology as believing in an afterlife.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the rules are different when you have a small group where everybody knows everybody else. In such a case, people deal with each other based on their direct firsthand knowledge of each other, and specialization is much more difficult.

Consider that if I were one person living by myself, I could not have a separation of state and economics, because by necessity I'd have to do both functions, since there's no one else to do them. And then, within the area of state, I wouldn't be able to separate executive, legislative, and judicial functions, because again, they're all me. If it were me and one or two other people, that's still not enough people to split them up properly.

Even if there are four or five people, maintaining those distinctions would create all sorts of artificial barriers which would be costly and inefficient. (You're on an island with Bob and Carol and Dave, but Bob is handling the judicial branch today, so if a judicial question comes up between Carol and Dave, you can't work it out yourself; you have to go ask Bob...)

I imagine that if a dispute breaks out, getting a "fair trial," the way you would want one in a large society, would be almost impossible, precisely because everybody knows everybody else, and there's no practical way to separate people's firsthand knowledge of each other from the issues at stake in the case. I mean, if you never liked Bob, you're more likely to convict him just because of that, and even if you could separate your dislike of Bob from your judgment in the case, you would have a hard time proving that you had done so. You could lay out your reasoning in writing, but people would still have grounds to suspect that what you wrote was different from what you were actually thinking. How does Bob get any right to an impartial judge or jury, when the community is that small?

When you have thousands of people who don't all know each other, barriers between people exist anyway; they cannot all know each other anymore, so it becomes possible to use those barriers between people for separations of powers and other specializations.

There have been small "communes" where people allegedly practice Communist principles, but in fact, since they all know each other, they can use their knowledge of each other to make everything sort-of work without genuinely relying on Communist principles at all. (Besides, since the principles are wrong, if they followed them strictly, their community would die out.) When you have a small group of people, such small groups are all very much the same, and any sort of political principles are premature.

So a small group of Objectivist geniuses could well start their own little village or something, but they would have a hard time demonstrating to the rest of the world that it was really based on Objectivist principles, and not merely on the fact that they know each other well and work together well. Objectivist principles would probably help them work together well, up to a point, but if a dispute happened, they would probably fall apart. They are too small of a group. (Or else they might compromise their principles in order to stay together, but that introduces problems of its own.)

(It is also a problem when you have a large society ruled by a small group of people, when each of the people in the ruling clique knows everybody else in the clique... and when they prevent anybody not in the clique from holding office... because they cannot police each other properly anymore, because they are not impartial... and they can collude across "separation of powers" barriers...)

I think America came together because you had a large group of people who did not all know each other but had similar ideas, and they also had a blank canvas upon which to create a country. The blank canvas these days is hard to come by, but not impossible. But you also need the large group with the common ideas. I don't think a small group would be able to do the job. You might think that the Founding Fathers were a small group, but I think what they did was only possible because they were representative of a larger group from which they came.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

As you have observed, on existing land territories incumbent government structures and societal cultures will dictate the possibility,  speed, and extent of any change.

Unless it’s only some kind of Sea steading, artificial island, deep sea, or space colony which is established as the new country, no geniuses will be able to pull off anything to bring about a truly free country without changing culture over the long run, which is slow.

Any sharp and sudden “shrugging” by anyone with any real economic power will be seen (by the prevalent culture) as callous and power hungry, simultaneously indifferent to the public good while attempting a kind of blackmail at the expense of the poor…

keep believing it is possible, it might be as good for your psychology as believing in an afterlife.

 

 

If the events of Atlas Shrugged are not possible in reality, what is the disconnect between the book and reality?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wars, coups and political collapse have accomplished this: Germany, Japan and (some of) their allies and occupied territories after WW2; eastern Europe and the USSR ca. 1990; the military coup in Chile in the 70s led in the short run to dictatorship, but this in turn gave way to freedom.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, happiness said:

If the events of Atlas Shrugged are not possible in reality, what is the disconnect between the book and reality?

Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction. That's the "disconnect" right there.

It uses many principles which are true, but the same principles could play out in any of a large number of different ways in reality, just as they could lead to many other fiction books.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, necrovore said:

Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction. That's the "disconnect" right there.

It uses many principles which are true, but the same principles could play out in any of a large number of different ways in reality, just as they could lead to many other fiction books.

If something is impossible in reality, shouldn’t it also be impossible in an Ayn Rand novel?  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

34 minutes ago, happiness said:

If something is impossible in reality, shouldn’t it also be impossible in an Ayn Rand novel?

I think John Galt's motor, which is described as being able to pull energy from static electricity in the air, is impossible in reality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, necrovore said:

I think John Galt's motor, which is described as being able to pull energy from static electricity in the air, is impossible in reality.

I don’t know enough about physics to know. Not that Ayn Rand’s novels are the standard of truth and falsehood, but would Rand have wanted to base Galt’s motor on a concept so flawed that amateurs know it to be wrong?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Ayn Rand saw the details of the operation of Galt's motor as beside the point. The point of Galt's motor is that industrialists can invent new things, regardless of which particular things they are, or how they work.

I am sure she made the best use she could of the knowledge that was available at the time she wrote Atlas Shrugged.

But it would be too much to ask her to invent actual new working inventions herself and then ascribe them to her characters -- and it would also have been beside the point.

The point of a novel is to present (some) things "as they might be and ought to be," not as they are, so she presented characters who had the virtues she thought were important, and who put those virtues into action in the novel.

When she was asked if she thought Atlas Shrugged would be prophetic, she replied that she didn't want it to be prophetic. (I don't remember the exact words of either the question or the answer.)

I think she wanted people to recognize the virtues of the characters and the reasons for those virtues, and then to adopt those virtues. If the virtues were widespread, and if they were understood, so that people would know why they needed to have those virtues, then they would provide a foundation for a freer and more prosperous society.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/7/2021 at 7:10 PM, happiness said:

I don’t know enough about physics to know. Not that Ayn Rand’s novels are the standard of truth and falsehood, but would Rand have wanted to base Galt’s motor on a concept so flawed that amateurs know it to be wrong?

As I understand it, Galt's motor is impossible according to our current understanding of physics.  But the novel makes clear that Galt accomplished a revolution in physics in order to invent the motor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

As I understand it, Galt's motor is impossible according to our current understanding of physics.  But the novel makes clear that Galt accomplished a revolution in physics in order to invent the motor.

I know little of the background of writing Atlas Shrugged but I would think Rand would have consulted professional physicists for help coming up with a concept of something extremely elusive, but not impossible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, happiness said:

I know little of the background of writing Atlas Shrugged but I would think Rand would have consulted professional physicists for help coming up with a concept of something extremely elusive, but not impossible.

Presumably Rand thought it would be better to have Galt do something fundamental and accomplish a revolution in physics rather than just find a clever way to be the first to do something known to be possible.

It might help if we had more information on what Rand thought the motor was and wasn't.

Although I'm not an expert, isn't an exploitable electrical potential gradient in the atmosphere different from static electricity?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...