Saturday, March 24, 2012

389: The Utopia of the Free Market - Rand's Utopia

It is remarkable to note that in many studies on utopian ideas, you don't find any references to the utopia Atlantis of Ayn Rand.

There are on or two exception, which refer to the neoliberal utopia, but it almost seems that we have a blind spot, which obscures our view of the utopian features of capitalism.

It is like we take capitalism and its present form, neoliberalism, for granted, like we take gravity, electricity or magnetism for granted. That is just the way nature is, isn't it?

Let's have a closer look at this Atlantis of Ayn Rand and how it comes into being. Let's begin with the basic idea of the story in "Atlas Shrugged"

There is a striking resemblance between a tale by Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) and the basic plot in Rand's novel.

Saint-Simon say: Suppose one day 50 top scientists of France, 50 top bankers, 50 leading engineers, a hundred farmers, craftsmen and artists would disappear.

The country would become a body without a heart. All activity would come to a standstill.

Now, suppose this. We leave all above mentioned groups in place and make all ministers disappear and with them hundreds of officials, landowners, cardinals, and ten thousand of the richest people, who do not work.

What would happen to the country? Probably nothing, because the empty places can be filled easily by others, because the people that disappeared were useless anyway.

Useful to the prosperity of the country are the people that do the real work, people who are creative and productive. And this is what is the core of Rand's story.

Top industrialists, scientists, bankers, managers and lawyers just disappear suddenly. Public transportation breaks down and so on.

But these people do not just disappear. They move to a valley in the mountains of Colorado where they establish their Atlantis.

That is the utopia in which not only Rand, but also men like Greenspan, Hayek, Friedman believed. When you let the market absolutely free, there will emerge an ideal society in which prices optimally will reflect the balance between capital and labor. That was their utopian belief.

In Atlantis all human relations are dominated by money. You don't need a government to control affairs, but you just pay for everything you need and get paid for what you produce.

Although Rand is reluctant to use the term, Atlantis is a society. Rand however prefers to see it as a collection of free individuals guided by their rational self-interest.

Atlantis is a whole new world, a new way of life. To bring this message of salvation to the whole world, the old world has to be destroyed.

The utopians in Atlantis do their utmost to destroy the outside world by blowing up their mines, abandon their factories, attacking and destroying all shipping.

The heroes of Atlantis are pure and dedicated to their conviction. When Dagny Taggert arrives in Atlantis and stays in the house of the man who loves her, she, of course, has to pay for her stay.

But she has no Atlantis money. No problem, to earn money she does his household. And she already is a true believer. When her lover offers her to help with the dishes, she says:

Oh no….isn't that agains the rules?! Oops, yes.

This is the oath all inhabitants of Atlantis take:
I swear by my life and my love of it that I
will never live for the sake of another
man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

It is not done to help your neighbor for free in Atlantis. Altruism leads to destruction. This leads to statements like this: " For a man of moral stature, whose desires are born of rational values, sacrifice is the surrender of the right to the wrong, of the good to the evil.

And this "I now work for use, not for profit - my use, not the looters' profit. Only those who add to my life, not those who devour it, are my market. Only those who produce, not those who consume, can ever be anybody's market. I deal with the life-givers, not with the cannibals."

What to do with those who are not such creative, productive and rational beings? No problem, they'll yet need money to survive, so they automatically become the labor force of this shining neoliberal world.

That is what Adam Smith called "the invisible hand of the market". And those who can not work? The answer to that question we can see all over the world. These people end up in slums near big cities and live in extreme poverty. Simple as that, if it were Ayn Rand to judge.

The discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:23] herman Bergson: The floor is yours.. ㋡
[13:23] Lizzy Pleides: Brilliant Herman, Thank you!
[13:23] Star Magne: yes thank you...
[13:23] herman Bergson: Well...if you have any remarks or questions :-)
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: so how do these people eat with put money
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: just curious
[13:24] Mick Nerido: even right wing tea party in US believe in giving to charties.
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: of course they
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: particularly
[13:24] herman Bergson: Rand doesn't
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: Rand is turgid
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hmm that's also a thing we clearly see here in sweden, with the party that governs sweden now work and money is the way to go
[13:24] Tessa Zalivstok: why would you read her
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: the unemployed get a real hard time with less and less money while really hard to get a job
[13:25] herman Bergson: Because she has a great influence on economics these days Tessa
[13:25] Star Magne: so the strongest survives...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: and the richer just get richer
[13:25] Tessa Zalivstok: the only good thing from Ayn Rand was when she gave Greenspan the nickname "the Undertaker"
[13:26] Mick Nerido: Bill Gates and other capitalist rich give a lot to causes...
[13:26] Beertje Beaumont: will you excuse me Herman..i have to go
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: well they give a lot of money to welfare
[13:26] Lizzy Pleides: Tc Beertje
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes Mick..what would you do whenyou possess so much money that it needs 5 generations to spend it all
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ok cu Beertje
[13:26] Beertje Beaumont: bye:)
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: in fact Friedman writes at great length in praise of private support of the poor
[13:27] Star Magne: help others to help themselves..
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: if i had that much money id sure try help a lot of other people and not just take it for myself
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: but many does just that
[13:27] Mick Nerido: it should be my problem lol
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: now you may think that to be inadequate
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: I do
[13:27] Tessa Zalivstok: but it's a fact
[13:27] Star Magne: ...lots of freebies
[13:28] Tessa Zalivstok: and before Bismarck charity was always the function of the Church
[13:28] oola Neruda: social security and medicare are in real danger as well as pensions that have been demolished by companies... people did work but their promised earnings are in danger
[13:28] Tessa Zalivstok: you can't just dismiss this
[13:28] Tessa Zalivstok: intil very recently the very management of our hospitals was based on the management of convents
[13:28] herman Bergson: Charity and altruism is a special chapter on its own Tessa..
[13:29] herman Bergson: especialy in relation to Rand
[13:29] herman Bergson: Nice subject for a next lecture
[13:29] Tessa Zalivstok: yes but you can't pretend that the so-called neo liberals just ignore the poor
[13:29] Tessa Zalivstok: that's plain wrong
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: yes thats true, as i said, here the ones who governs see only to the ones who have a job and money, the ones that haven't or are sick are outsiders for them
[13:30] Mick Nerido: did she take her ideas from the natures dog eat dog world do u think?
[13:30] oola Neruda: regarding poverty... it is self interest to head off a mes for it is harder to clean it up
[13:30] herman Bergson: They cant ignore them...of would destabalize society
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: no
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: thats very cynical
[13:30] AnnieBrightstar Resident: But true
[13:30] Tessa Zalivstok: you can't just choose your opponents and accuse them of cynicism
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: they must help them get a job then, instead they say and this is a bit scary
[13:31] Tessa Zalivstok: people care
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: their slogan is work gives freedom
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: same as nazis used
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: arbeit macht frei
[13:31] Star Magne: yes have to invest more for people to get jobs
[13:31] Tessa Zalivstok: you also can'ty just pick hitler slogans and apply them to people who gave their lives to get rid of Hitler
[13:31] Tessa Zalivstok: that's cheap argument
[13:32] herman Bergson: Leave out Hitler plz....
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: i hate this sentence, .. sorry
[13:32] herman Bergson: wrong metaphore
[13:32] Tessa Zalivstok whispers: well who said that the slogan of the neos is work makes free?
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: they say all should have a work but they yet don't care about the unemployed instead they make life harder and harder for them with restrictions less payout and no help getting a work
[13:32] Tessa Zalivstok: whats that but a Hitler slogan?
[13:32] Mick Nerido: Fudal society there was King Barons Knights Church and surfs...
[13:33] herman Bergson: Let's get back to the main issue here....
[13:33] herman Bergson: and that was to show that Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is a true Utopia..
[13:34] herman Bergson: and that her ideas are the basics of the current neoliberalism
[13:34] Mick Nerido: Utopia meaning best of all possible worlds?
[13:34] herman Bergson: Which has led to the financial crisis the world is in now
[13:34] Tessa Zalivstok: Utopia meaning nowhere
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes Mick
[13:35] Tessa Zalivstok: from Sir Thomas More's eponymous book
[13:35] herman Bergson: Greenspan believed in the blessings of the free market till th ened
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ahj
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:35] Star Magne: what will be the next utopia offering a hope a way out from the currrent ills...?
[13:35] herman Bergson: when he had to admit to the Senate committee that there yes ..something was wrong with that idea
[13:36] herman Bergson: smiles..
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well..this is a nice hot issue...
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: interesting for sure
[13:36] herman Bergson: We'll continue on this in a next lecture...
[13:37] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: well I hope for sure that the tables will turn soon and start go in the right direction in some way
[13:37] Mick Nerido: thanks Herman
[13:37] Star Magne: thank you...for all the insights..was a be here ...:))
[13:37] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman!
[13:37] herman Bergson: Class dismissed... ^_^
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: this capital system we have today is dangerous play for sure
[13:37] herman Bergson: Unless you still have an urgent remark or question of course
[13:38] Merlin Saxondale: Bye everyone :)
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: its a difficult topic for sure
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: but interestinbg
[13:38] AnnieBrightstar Resident: Bye Merlin
[13:38] herman Bergson: Bye Merlin
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: cu merlin
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:38] Star Magne: efficient energy and human fierndly technology ..can be the grounds for a promissing future?
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ill see if i can find that atlas shrugged and read it
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: seems interesting
[13:38] Star Magne: thanks
[13:38] herman Bergson: I don't pretend to have all answers Bejiita...far from that
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: downloaded and started to read accelerando
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: seems very interesting
[13:39] herman Bergson: But we can look at matters with a critical eye
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:40] herman Bergson: You dont need to be a cook to tell if some dish really tasts good :-)
[13:40] Star Magne: hehee
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: indeed not, hehe
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: true
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: easy to feel if something taste good or bad but harder to actually make
[13:40] AnnieBrightstar Resident: Seems more of an empty plate
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: but as an expert you have another view i think
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: same analogy almost with using a good or bad software and program your own
[13:41] herman Bergson: Yes Lizzy....

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