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Most beautiful presentations of Liberty.

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RagnarD Posted: Wed, Oct 24 2012 2:58 PM

Last night after recommending a friend of mine read Ayn Rand's "Anthem" I decided to read it again myself.  I confess it always brings me to tears, I think moreso each time I read it.  I see Atlas Shrugged as slightly more of an intellectual blueprint of both enslavement and liberty.  While still beautiful and a greater feat in its entirety it doesn't strike as hard.  I see Anthem as more of an emotional picture of liberty, while its scope is not nearly as broad its impact completely overwhelms me. 

While I disagree with parts of Objectivism (primarily the necessity of government to protect rights)  I've never found another author that presents liberty as beautifully as Rand.  Recently non-fiction reading has been boring me to tears, I'm hoping some of you will have fiction recommendations stemming more from aesthetics than intellectual content. 

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I'm different, I couldn't get past half of Atlas Shrugged without ragequitting due to the length. Uh, the Fountainhead is supposed to be pretty good I heard.

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There is nobody better than Jeff Tucker in talking about the beauty of the market.

Here is one of his best speeches "Technology and the Market":

https://www.mises.org/media/4839/Technology-and-the-Market

or this one "Capitalism is Life Itself":

https://www.mises.org/media/6299/Capitalism-Is-Life-Itself

or "How To Improve Society":

https://www.mises.org/media/5622/How-to-Improve-Society

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Clayton replied on Wed, Oct 24 2012 7:57 PM

 

(OK, the last one isn't about liberty specifically but it is beautiful, I think)

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(OK, the last one isn't about liberty specifically but it is beautiful, I think)

Fuck yes it is.  Hugo is the shit.  And it is indirectly linked to liberty since it traces creation and evolution all the way through the human mind.  Hence, referencing creativity.

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Malachi replied on Wed, Oct 24 2012 8:52 PM
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Dont know if I would call it "beautiful," its good fiction.
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Wheylous replied on Wed, Oct 24 2012 9:01 PM

Anything by Tom Woods automatically goes to the beautiful pile.

Specifically, these are amazing:

 

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You know Ayn Rand hated libertarians.

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 12:07 AM

1. Rand more or less hated everyone who didn't agree with her down to the last letter.

2. Her system is indistinguishable from a traditional libertarian one

3. Atlas Shrugged has acted as a stepping stone to libertarianism for thousands of people... Including me.

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1. Rand more or less hated everyone who didn't agree with her down to the last letter.

Yeah.  That's a warming sentiment to look up to.

2. Her system is indistinguishable from a traditional libertarian one

Other than the state enforcing intellectual property laws...because Ayn Rand was a writer....pretty objective.

3. Atlas Shrugged has acted as a stepping stone to libertarianism for thousands of people... Including me.

Irrespective.  Marx has probably brought tons of people to its antithesis as well.

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 12:54 AM

1. I don't know who could look at the non-political and more personal writings and actions of Ayn Rand and not be mildly disgusted

2. Many libertarians do support intellectual property rights

3. Do you mean indirectly? Like as a reaction to his works? At any rate I do think that it's quite relevant since we are talking about both the "most beautiful presentations of liberty", as Ayn Rand presented what is (in my and opinion and in the opinion of many others) quite a beautiful presentation of liberty, and responding to Skeptic's apparent rejection the work since it was (presumably, I hope I am not misrepresenting you SM) not quite fitting because Ayn Rand hated libertarians.

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Yea, Ayn Rand is typically seen as more of a symbol of the worst aspects of capitalism.  And she did hate the libertarians.  She was friends with Baron Rothschild...I'm sure Rothbard was soooo jealous that her "liberty" got her into that world, while his "liberty" got what it did.

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Groucho replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 3:37 AM

Wheylous - those are great Tom Woods speeches - especially the first one! I'd never seen either of them before. laugh

Penn Jillete on why he's a libertarian - he even says he's probably an anarcho-capitalist!

(I hope this shows up as a video and not just a link)

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 10:15 AM

Aristophanes,

...What? I don't understand what you're trying to say or why it's relevant.

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Rothbard even went so far as to write a play that lampooned what he percieved as being a massive cult following around a woman who had used libertarianism to create her own strange spiritual...following, or something.

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What is not to understand?

Ayn Rand represents the crass conception of capitalism.  "Fuck other people.  Get rich and dominate."  On top of her personal opinions I see no reasons why people should look up to her.  And on top of that she hated the people who are here, revering her for supporting an ideology that she didn't support.

Her entire philosophy boils down to asthetic preferences...and a cult of personality as SM said.

Rothschild is an example of the kind of business success that is to be shunned by libertarians (according to Rothbard and many others I'm sure), but Ayn was friends with him/them.  She thought they were great examples of mankind.  Bankers for the State; helluva a libertarian success story.

 

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Aristophanes:

What is not to understand?

Ayn Rand represents the crass conception of capitalism.  "Fuck other people.  Get rich and dominate."

 

No, that's the caricature and strawman of what her works were saying. You do everyone a disservice by accepting those strawmen.

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 2:34 PM

You don't have to admire someone to admire their works or think that something which they wrote was beautiful. If this were the case then the sorry lives of most philosophers and writers would discredit them utterly. Also, Rand's portrayal of capitalism was not in any way crass. It was proud, optimistic, and endearing to the individual and human spirit. The protagonists in Atlas Shrugged were not only proud but they were kind and respectful of others. No one was looked down on other than those who demand things of others and those who refused to contribute to their own welfare.

I am not one for Rand or Objectivism, but I do see that the vision she portrayed in her works and in Atlas Shrugged as something especially positive, libertarian, and especially pro-market.

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Okay. But I still have an extremely difficult time getting through Rand's crude writing style. Pretty easy to get lost in that web, from what I remember.

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 2:50 PM

Neodoxy,

I don't know if you have read any Heinlein, but you might be interested in this essay by Jeff Riggenbach titled Was Robert A. Heinlein a Libertarian? The last paragraph:

What we need to stay focused on here, I think, is that in his books, Heinlein was his own man. He found social and political ideas — ideas about the different ways human beings might figure out to live together peaceably in large groups — endlessly fascinating. He liked to fool around with such ideas, speculate about how they might work out in practice. Libertarian ideas weren't the only ones he fooled around with and speculated about in his fiction. But because of his interaction with Robert LeFevre in Colorado in the '50s and '60s, libertarian ideas were among those he toyed with and dramatized in certain of his stories. Whether he was personally a libertarian or not, all those of us who are libertarians owe him a profound debt for writing The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. For that book alone, Robert A. Heinlein has earned a place in the libertarian tradition.

I'm not a fan of Ayn Rand the person, but Ayn Rand the author was pretty good (well, I don't think her prose is magnificent, but the stories were good). To borrow from Toscanini (about Strauss):

To Rand the author I take off my hat; to Rand the woman I put it back on again.

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Jeff Tucker's article about potato chip bags is also one of the greats:

https://mises.org/daily/5203

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 4:15 PM

@gotlucky

That was insightful, and very well put, I agree wholly

@Skeptic

Which book?

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The protagonists in Atlas Shrugged were not only proud but they were kind and respectful of others. No one was looked down on other than those who demand things of others and those who refused to contribute to their own welfare.

So, you look down on people who demand things of others, but the point of looking down on them is because you expect them to behave a certain way?  How is that not demanding of people?

And, in her criticism of philosophy (in essays and speeches) she tries to discredit some of the most insightful philosophers (Kant particularly) that lived and thought against her philosophy.  She is worse than Hegel in demanding things of others.

I am not one for Rand or Objectivism, but I do see that the vision she portrayed in her works and in Atlas Shrugged as something especially positive, libertarian, and especially pro-market.

I realize this.  But, you have to see that in reality she was buddy/buddy with the Rothschilds...a stridently anti-market, corporatist family.  In my eyes, it would seem that she is endorsing their success as the kind of "market" success that she "promoted."  Making her entire philosphy a way of endorsing the " I loan money to the State so it can tax you and pay me back"-type of success.

And as for the strawman point, that is the way that most people see her.  It is even more the direction of understanding that the Establishment propaganda machine is pushing.  So trying to fight the tide of that is not a good plan, that is my point.  There are less polemic pseudo-libertarian writers to promote rather than "demanding" that the majority of people read 1000 pages (two choices on this) of Rand's book to "really get it."

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@ Neodoxy

Atlas Shrugged.

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Making her entire philosphy a way of endorsing the " I loan money to the State so it can tax you and pay me back"-type of success.

I'm pretty sure Rand refused to buy government bonds because she believed it supported government spending.

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I'm pretty sure Rand refused to buy government bonds because she believed it supported government spending.

1. Irrespective.

2. Who cares?

Why does no one see the contradiction in her friendship with people who loan money to states?  She couldn't overlook Rothbard's wife's religion, but she can overlook the atrocity of making the government tax people to pay back bankers?

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 4:26 PM

"So, you look down on people who demand things of others"

It depends upon the exact situation. Generally I do, however, as I think you more or less have to if you're a libertarian in the sense that it doesn't matter if someone expects something, but you have a big problem if someone supports taking things from other people. At any rate, simply because I understand, do not oppose, and generally admire this way of thinking does not mean I employ it.

"but the point of looking down on them is because you expect them to behave a certain way?"

In some cases it is, in most cases it isn't. You probably look down on Hitler. Do you really think that he would have changed his ways for you if he had known you were alive.

"And, in her criticism of philosophy (in essays and speeches) she tries to discredit some of the most insightful philosophers (Kant particularly) that lives and thought against her philosophy.  She is worse than Hegel in demanding things of others."

Yes, Rand was an intolerant bitch who I would ague didn't even understand the is-ought dichotomy (have you ever read the relavent section in "The Virtue of Selfishness"?) and probably wasn't really qualified to talk on philosophy anyway. In reality her philosophy was hopelessly underdeveloped (she never wrote a treatise on the subject) and simplistic.

"There are less polemic pseudo-libertarian writers to promote rather than 'demanding' that the majority of people read 1000 pages (two choices on this) of Rand's book to 'really get it.'"

I don't think anyone here is doing that.

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 4:27 PM

Skeptic,

Really? I'm surprised that you disliked her writing style that much. I found her style fairly appealing although the antithesis of the world "brief" should be "Atlas Shrugged". I do recommend the audio book more than the novel, however.

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"There are less polemic pseudo-libertarian writers to promote rather than 'demanding' that the majority of people read 1000 pages (two choices on this) of Rand's book to 'really get it.'"

I don't think anyone here is doing that.

Mmmm.  It is an implicit criterion in the head of everyone who says something along the lines of, "you don't get it," but never gives any explanation (not that I need or want one here).

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Well, she didn't purposefully make the endorsement you're suggesting, since she claimed her principles prevented her from doing the very thing you say her philosophy is supposed to support.  I just thought I should point that out, I don't feel a need to defend her.  I haven't even read any of her works, not having felt the need due to the fact that I had already read Hazlitt, Hayek, Mises, Rothbard etc. before having heard of her (I'm not American).

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Wow, I guess in my mind I pictured everybody on this forum being American, for some reason.

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 4:31 PM

"Mmmm.  It is an implicit criterion in the head of everyone who says something along the lines of, "you don't get it," but never gives any explanation (not that I need or want one here)."

What?

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Clayton replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 4:55 PM

 

:-P

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"Mmmm.  It is an implicit criterion in the head of everyone who says something along the lines of, "you don't get it," but never gives any explanation (not that I need or want one here)."

What?

Fucking read, kid.

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RagnarD replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 8:07 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions, I just now got enough time off work to start watching/reading them. 

As to the Rand discussion, as I remember her antagonism to libertarianism centered around her feeling that "They" plagiarized her political philosophy while discarding the morality, epistemology and metaphysics behind it.  That's as I remember it, not my position (trying to keep out of the debate).

I can definitely see not making it through Atlas Shrugged, if I hadn't been so blown away by Anthem I doubt I would have ever made it through the slow intro (initial 200-250 pages) of Atlas Shrugged. 

The main thing I think I gained from Rand that I'm not sure I would otherwise have attained  was a sense of the integration of ideas, I viewed the world with completely different eyes after reading a lot of her work.  She took me from seeing the world with a childs eyes as a disconnected mess, to seeing how everything is interrelated.  I don't get the sense that I would have achieved that through anything else that I've read.  I'm curious whether anyone has gotten deeply into Rand after already being  knowledgable about libertarianism and if they attain a heightened sense of integration from her?

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 8:51 PM

"Fucking read, kid."

Fucking write, pops.

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This is what I'll do for you:

No, that's the caricature and strawman of what her works were saying. You do everyone a disservice by accepting those strawmen.

"There are less polemic pseudo-libertarian writers to promote rather than 'demanding' that the majority of people read 1000 pages (two choices on this) of Rand's book to 'really get it.'"

I don't think anyone here is doing that.

Mmmm.  It is an implicit criterion in the head of everyone who says something along the lines of, "you don't get it," but never gives any explanation (not that I need or want one here).

I don't know how you could not understand that.

 

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 9:19 PM

"This is what I'll do for you"

You really are too kind.

It might be good if you started by showing who said "you don't get it". You introduced that concept out of nowhere. You were originally seemed to indicate that trying to get people to read Atlas shrugged was not a good way to get them introduced to the topic, yet I see no one here trying to do that, all that has been said in favor of the book is that it is a good book.

So what are you talking about? Are you talking about what you said and your arguments were criticized? If you admit that you haven't read Rand then why don't you just accept that you're wrong?

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Oct 25 2012 9:55 PM

Aristophanes:

Fucking read, kid.

There you go again.

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It might be good if you started by showing who said "you don't get it".  You introduced that concept out of nowhere.

I said along the lines of it.

You were originally seemed to indicate that trying to get people to read Atlas shrugged was not a good way to get them introduced to the topic, yet I see no one here trying to do that, all that has been said in favor of the book is that it is a good book.

My "seeming indication" was just in your mind.  I didn't say anyone was.  I merely added to my point, I wasn't even arguing with you (people can say things that don't need "argued" with).

When I said, "along the lines of 'you don't get it'," I was refering to the comment about my acceptance of a strawman, which is evident that his implication was that I didn't get what Rand was really saying.  All I said is that, by not giving explanation, I am left to infer that I must read her fiction for myself (or at least consult an authority).

It may be a good book.  I am not contesting that.

So what are you talking about?  Are you talking about what you said and your arguments were criticized?

My aversion is to get you to read between the lines.  Exo you've got.  Eso you don't; same with "gotlucky: the shamed."

And to be honest, the most prescient criticims I made were addressed by one person.  She cohorted with pseudo-libertarian, rhetorical, ideology and the most infamous family in modern banking.  Seriosuly, the family that eventually loaned money to the British Monarch.  Is it any wonder why people think the things they do about libertarianism?  With that kind of  a mouthpiece for it?

If you admit that you haven't read Rand then why don't you just accept that you're wrong?

I have read Rand, just not her fiction...

 

 

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